The JTA, along with Florida-based autonomous mobility solutions company Beep, First Transit, and autonomous vehicle manufacturer Navya, hosted a day-long training session for first responders, fire fighters, and law enforcement officials at the North Florida TPO campus. The Jacksonville, FL, session focused on the latest autonomous vehicle (AV) technology and how first responders should address emergency situations.
"As we continue developing autonomous vehicle services as part of the Ultimate Urban Circulator program in Jacksonville, it's crucial that our law enforcement and fire and rescue partners familiarize themselves with this technology so they are prepared to encounter them under any circumstances," said JTA CEO Nathaniel Ford Sr.
Participants from local and regional agencies received hands-on operational training and learned how to respond to scenarios involving aspects including potential hazards, passenger safety, and immobilization.
"It is extremely important to the mission of JFRD that we continue to stay ahead of advancements in equipment and technology," said Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD) Interim Chief Keith Powers.
Beep says it offers the next generation of services for passenger mobility to fleet operators in planned communities and low-speed environments across the public and private sector. The company considers the training as a part of its mission to enable the advancement of autonomous technology solutions in a way that is pragmatic and practical, with a focus on public safety and security.
"We are very excited to support the mission of the JFRD and offer training to this most critical audience," said Joe Moye, Beep's CEO. "This training enables first responders to become familiar with and knowledgeable about the vehicles so that they can confidently interact with them."
Beep has an exclusive dealer arrangement for the state of Florida with Navya, manufacturer of the Autonom shuttle. The shuttles are fully autonomous, driverless, electric, and utilize advanced guidance and detection systems to interact in real time with the environment.
"The safety of our vehicles and all the passengers they transport is our first priority—always," continued Moye. "Navya has a perfect safety record according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Automated Driving Systems Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment (VSSA) Disclosure Index, making them an ideal partner for Beep."
The training comes as the JTA prepares Downtown Jacksonville and the surrounding neighborhoods for the Ultimate Urban Circulator (U2C) program, anchored by autonomous vehicles.
The JTA established the autonomous vehicle Test and Learn Track near the Sports and Entertainment Complex in 2017. Since then, the JTA has worked with autonomous vehicle manufactures like Navya to test, develop, and prepare this technology for public use.
Along with its partners at JEA, North Florida TPO, FDOT, and the City of Jacksonville, the JTA is currently developing Phase One of the U2C, called the Bay Street Innovation Corridor. This first leg will feature a fleet of 15 autonomous vehicles that will traverse a three-mile loop from Hogan Street in Downtown Jacksonville to the city's Sports and Entertainment Complex.
The Bay Street Innovation Corridor also will link AVs to an extensive array of smart sensors, traffic signals, and digital traffic solutions to increase mobility and to enhance the pedestrian experience in Downtown Jacksonville.