New free, autonomous shuttle hits the road in St. Pete

AVA is 100% electric and can run for nine hours on just a few dollars of electricity, PSTA said.

click to enlarge New free, autonomous shuttle hits the road in St. Pete
Photo via PSTA


People can take a ride in St. Pete’s new, driverless shuttle as early as Wednesday.

The autonomous vehicle will travel up and down Bayshore Drive from the Dali Museum to the Vinoy Renaissance for the next three months, according to the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.

The shuttle is called AVA, and uses artificial intelligence including GPS, radar and light sensors to move. There will be specialists onboard who will be able to use a controller when necessary to dodge things like other cars and pedestrians.

click to enlarge New free, autonomous shuttle hits the road in St. Pete
Photo via PSTA


Last month HART launched Tampa Bay’s first autonomous vehicle pilot downtown. But unlike that shuttle, which travels on a designated, private route, AVA will have to share the road with other cars.

AVA is 100% electric and can run for nine hours on just a few dollars of electricity, PSTA said.

Masks are required to ride AVA and specialists will undergo a temperature check before each shift. There will also be routine cleanings throughout the day. Though it can fit up to 15 passengers, capacity is currently limited to six passengers from the same party or four passengers from separate parties.

The service is completely free and runs Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The pilot will last until Feb. 15.

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