TONY, the self-driving shuttle, launches

Well, this is cool.

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, VA – Albemarle County, Perrone Robotics, Inc., JAUNT, Inc., and Smart Mobility, Inc. today celebrated the first day of service for their autonomous shuttle transit service, the first public autonomous shuttle operating in Virginia on public roads.

AVNU (pronounced, “Avenue”, an acronym for Autonomous Vehicle, Neighborhood Use), is based on Perrone Robotics’ TONY GEM autonomous shuttle platform.  The pilot will operate for three months, with routes shifting to different areas of Crozet. The first route will be within the Old Trail Village neighborhood and the second route will run between Old Trail Village and downtown Crozet. The AVNU pilot is supported in partnership by Albemarle County, Perrone Robotics, JAUNT, and Smart Mobility, Inc.

“It is with great pleasure that we launch the pilot of the next generation of transportation – autonomous neighborhood shuttles – here in Crozet,” said Ann Mallek, White Hall District Supervisor. “Albemarle County is so proud to support our homegrown company, Perrone Robotics, to bring this project to fruition and to support our development areas by providing small-scale transit service to connect residents with commercial and recreation centers.” 

This electric-powered shuttle is designed to operate autonomously on public roads, navigating vehicle and pedestrian traffic. “With over 33,000 autonomous miles traveled using our technology, TONY powered vehicles bring the highest level of autonomy available in the world today to shuttles,” said Paul Perrone, founder/CEO of Perrone Robotics.

“We are deploying an AV platform that has been carefully refined since 2003, applied in automotive and industrial autonomy spaces, and now being leveraged to bring last-mile services to communities such as those here in Albemarle County, Virginia. What we deliver is a platform that operates shuttles autonomously in complex environments with roundabouts, merges, and pedestrian-dense areas.” 

During the pilot, the shuttle will operate with an onboard safety operator that is actively monitoring the roadway and able to assume control of the shuttle if needed. 

Perrone Robotics, Inc. (PRI)

Perrone Robotics has developed a general purpose software platform for robotics and autonomous vehicles called “MAX®”.  The company is focused today on delivering its TONY product, built on MAX, to commercially deploy practical autonomous shuttling of people and things. With over 16 years of experience and over 33,000 miles autonomously driven, Perrone Robotics’ MAX autonomous engine enables standard vehicles of any size to collect input from any suite of sensors, fuse that information together into a coherent picture of what surrounds a robot, and then engage in appropriate maneuvers and actions. For more information, please visit https://www.perronerobotics.com/

Update: Answer to a Question

Question: I don’t understand. Is there a schedule? Or do you summon it somehow? I mean, if its route is within Old Trail, where is it going besides between people’s houses and the commercial block? School to Grit? Confused.

Answer: Today was the shuttle launch. Today from 10-12 and 3-5 as well as tomorrow, the shuttle will be available on a fixed loop in Old Trail. Beginning next weekend (July 20-21) the shuttle will be running on weekends on a closed loop in Old Trail. There will be a schedule that is publicized before next weekend (July 20-21).

Eventually the plan is to be able to summon it and to expand it’s range. Stay tuned!

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