Albemarle County, Perrone Robotics, JAUNT announce partnership for autonomous shuttle service

albemarle countyAlbemarle County, Perrone Robotics and JAUNT announced a Letter of Intent to enter into a partnership to develop, test, and operate an autonomous transit shuttle service pilot in Albemarle County. The partnership, totaling $600,000, will launch autonomous transit shuttle service in March 2019.

“Perrone Robotics is beyond excited to apply its ground-breaking autonomous technology to deliver modern mobility in our community” said PRI founder and CEO Paul Perrone. “It’s so satisfying to apply our technology to provide a zero-emission transit approach that will benefit businesses and neighbors – right here and right now in Albemarle County.”

“This partnership positions Albemarle County to lead in the development of the next generation of transit service with a cutting-edge local business, Perrone Robotics, and a trusted transit provider in JAUNT,” Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Chair Ann Mallek shared. “Albemarle County has long supported vibrant communities and an autonomous, zero-emission transit service brings the promise of reduced parking needs and greater use of green technologies in our urban centers – allowing our community to continue to flourish into the future.”

The location of the pilot autonomous transit shuttle service is still under review, but the service will allow riders to embark and disembark along a fixed route. While the shuttle will operate autonomously, a safety-trained transit “ambassador” will be on-board to address customer questions, offer any required assistance, and step-in as driver if needed.

“Over the next decade autonomous technology will change many aspects of public transportation. It will transform how we think about providing equitable and meaningful mobility to our communities, said Brad Sheffield, CEO of JAUNT. “Being at the forefront offers JAUNT to opportunity to understand how to best position itself to help the community prepare for these changes and opportunities. JAUNT will help explore new ways to adapt autonomous technology to enhance how it offers equity and accessible mobility through customer-oriented public transportation, the professional development of our staff and explore new service markets for transit.”

As part of the partnership, Albemarle County, through its Economic Development Authority and its Economic Development office, will promote economic development and existing business expansion by supporting Perrone Robotics. Perrone Robotics will develop and adapt their technology to enable the NEV for autonomous shuttle service. JAUNT will provide their proven expertise for scheduling and operating the shuttle during the pilot. This partnership is detailed in the Letter of Intent approved on November 14, 2018.

The University of Virginia plans to join the partnership with the pilot launch.

“UVA is rapidly expanding its research capabilities related to autonomous systems and their societal impact,” explains Tom Katsouleas, EVP & Provost. “We are thrilled to partner with Perrone Robotics, Albemarle County, JAUNT, the UVA Research Park, and others to continue exploring the transformative potential of autonomous vehicles. Our faculty are developing technologies for safe, efficient self-driving cars, and envisioning a sustainable, equitable urban future. We are delighted to bring that expertise to this partnership at such a pivotal moment in transportation.”

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