HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Getting around downtown Tampa is getting a little easier.
HART is launching the Tampa Bay area's very first, autonomous vehicle — The HART SMART AV.
“We can reduce poverty rates. We can reduce the income inequality gap here in the Tampa Bay area if we expand transit,” said Kathy Castor, Congresswoman for the 14th District of Florida.
The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit teamed up with BEEP, to bring the self-driving vehicle to the Marion Street transitway, in downtown Tampa.
“The shuttle will share the transitway with buses during operational hours. 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with four stations along the way,” explained HART Chairwoman, Mariella Smith.
There is no steering wheel but an autonomous specialist is always on board. It’s free to the public, but you must wear a mask. The eco-friendly shuttle is 100% electric and costs less than $30 a month to charge. It’s equipped with eight outside sensors.
“These vehicles respond 10 times faster than a human can, given a certain obstacle,” said Joe Moye, CEO of BEEP.
The Florida Department of Transportation is funding the project which received a $1 million grant. The autonomous shuttle opens to the public on Monday, Oct. 12.