Soon, a new vehicle will be moving you around downtown Tampa, without anyone behind the wheel. FDOT is giving HART $1 million to develop a driverless service, running through downtown.
“If it worked, as it is advertised, then it’s a no-brainer, why wouldn’t I want an automated vehicle, I wouldn’t have to talk to anybody," Alejandro Sanchez, who works downtown, said.
HART is working to get an autonomous shuttle like one already in use in Europe to run up and down the Marion Street Transit Parkway.
“The capability of the vehicles, the technology is actually there, and operating in other places right now we just want to bring it here to solve a problem downtown," Justin Begley, a senior planner with HART said.
The shuttle would be on a continuous loop, running the length of the city, getting to each stop about every 10 minutes. The vehicles would move slowly, 8-12 miles per hour, and have many sensors to detect other cars or people.
“Vehicles can recognize these threats, and intervene on their own and keep people safe, versus sometimes human interaction is a little more unpredictable," Begley said.
HART does plan to have an attendant on board to ease any fears. They're still figuring out when the driverless vehicles could be on the road and how much it will cost riders.
"If it’s useful, if it’s easy, I’m going to do it, but if it’s safe, it’s got to be safe," Sanchez said.
The hope is to see these vehicles on the road in 2017.