ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - A "first-of-its-kind" driverless shuttle program is launching in Altamonte Springs this week – and it's free to use!
CraneRIDES is rolling out in Altamonte Springs with a launch celebration on Monday morning before they officially hit the streets next week, according to a press release.
Residents will be able to ride on the electric shuttle on a 1.5-mile route connecting the Altamonte Mall, Renaissance Centre, Cranes Roost Park and AMC Theater, according to a news release. The shuttles will run seven days a week. At a later date, the shuttle service is expected to expand to the AdventHealth Altamonte campus, Altamonte Springs SunRail Station and CenterPointe.
"Though Altamonte Springs is at regional crossroads where millions drive through each year, residents and visitors will now have alternatives to get around easily while saving time by avoiding congested roads or having to park multiple times," a CraneRIDES spokesperson said in a press release.
The environmentally-friendly initiative is being tested in Altamonte Springs thanks to the Florida Department of Transportation's recommendation, which will require the city to provide data that will help implement the shuttles in other areas. FDOT awarded a service development grant which provides half of the $2.4 million needed for the first three years of operation.
"The State has a vested interest in developing multiple modes of transportation that can efficiently move people. Autonomous vehicles can be part of the solution," said John E. Tyler, Florida Department of Transportation District 5 secretary. "With the hundreds of people moving to Florida every day, building new roads cannot be our only focus. Our partnership with the City of Altamonte Springs creates a scalable, replicable model that other Florida communities can now evaluate through hands-on experience because of our CraneRIDES AV partnership with the City."
The bus technology was provided by Beep Inc., which already has similar buses on the streets in Lake Nona and the Creative Village near downtown Orlando.
"We’re excited to join the Altamonte Springs community to help enhance the lives of residents with safe, sustainable, and accessible autonomous mobility networks," said Beep CEO Joe Moye. "Advancing these important transportation alternatives requires testing these vehicles in practical use cases where the public can experience improved mobility on quieter, safer streets. I can’t say enough about the vision of the Altamonte Springs leadership for their efforts in leading the way in this important area of transformation."
FOX 35 News will attend CraneRIDES' launch at 10:30 a.m. Monday.