Officials Tuesday revealed a glimpse of what could one day be the future of transit throughout Orlando, in unveiling a small driverless bus that will soon maneuver Lake Nona.
“We want to be one of the autonomous vehicle central points in all of the United States,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said Tuesday at a media event in Lake Nona.
Beep also announced it would be headquartered in Orlando, with plans to expand across the nation.
In doing so, co-founder Kevin Reid said it would likely have more than 100 employees working there.
“We will actually have employees in our central monitoring facilities here in Lake Nona that will actually be monitoring real time a lot of these shuttles that will be running nationwide,” Reid said.
Orlando joins a growing list of cities that are deploying the technology in various forms, including Jacksonville, Gainesville, Detroit, Las Vegas and Arlington, Texas.
This vehicle is made by French manufacturer Navya and can run up to nine hours. The company’s buses are located in parts of France, Belgium, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and the U.S.
It’s run both with artificial intelligence and machine learning, which means the system will work better the more it’s operated.
Upon launch, Reid said it likely won’t carry a cost for passengers and will have an interactive smartphone application to operate it. Routes haven’t yet been finalized.
The rounded bus is about 15 feet long and has space for 11 seated passengers, with four more standing.
While Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings were optimistic about the potential of the buses to reduce traffic crashes, there have been issues elsewhere.