ORLANDO, Fla. - New shuttles in Orlando’s Lake Nona community will soon take you for a spin around the neighborhood – for free.
The twist: No one is behind the wheel.
Lake Nona unveiled the first autonomous vehicles in Florida on Tuesday.
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To find one of the new Move Nona shuttles, all you have to do is use an app to request a pickup.
The shuttles run on batteries and are guided by sensors, with a goal of reducing air pollution and congestion. Each shuttle can accommodate eight seated passengers and there’s standing room for a few more.
"We want to be one of the autonomous vehicle central points of all the United States, so this is a really big announcement today," said Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer.
The Move Nona shuttles are the first to be launched by a company called Beep. Because Lake Nona is their first rollout, there’s no safety record to examine.
"There's actually a ton of safety testing that has been done. Both by NAVYA as the manufacturer of the vehicle, but also by regulators across the country," said Beep co-founder Kevin Reid.
Mayor Buddy Dyer believes they'll prove to be safer than normal cars.
"[The shuttles] have sensors instead of people that are looking down at iPhones or tuning their radio or being distracted. Autonomous vehicles can't be distracted," Dyer said.
Beep chose Orlando for its headquarters, which will likely employ about 100 people.
"We need the smart city infrastructure. So here in Lake Nona and across the city of Orlando, we have the right type of infrastructure that we need," Reid said.
Eventually, Reid said shuttles will be monitored all over the country from Lake Nona.
Each shuttle will still have someone monitoring on board in case something goes wrong.
Beep has not said on which streets the shuttles will be running.
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