ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. — Perrone Robotics Inc., in partnership with Albemarle County and JAUNT Inc., last week announced that Virginia’s first public autonomous shuttle service began pilot operations in Crozet, Va.
The shuttle service, called AVNU for “Autonomous Vehicle, Neighborhood Use,” is driven by Perrone Robotics’ TONY (TO Navigate You) autonomous shuttle technology applied to a Polaris Industries Inc. GEM shuttle. Perrone Robotics said its Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) shuttle has industry-leading perception and guidance capabilities and will drive fully autonomously (with safety driver) through county neighborhoods and downtown areas on public roads, navigating vehicle, and pedestrian traffic. The base GEM vehicle meets federal safety standards for vehicles in its class.
“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 NEV 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, Va. What we deliver is a platform that operates shuttles autonomously in complex environments with roundabouts, merges, and pedestrian-dense areas.”
The TONY-based AVNU shuttle will offer riders trips within local residential developments, trips to connect neighborhoods, and connections from these areas to the downtown business district.
More routes to come for Perrone AVNU shuttles
After the pilot phase, additional routes will be demonstrate Albemarle County development initiatives such as connector services for satellite parking. They will also connection with JAUNT‘s commuter shuttles, also targeted for autonomous operation with TONY technology.
“We have seen other solutions out there that require extensive manual operation for large portions of the course and very low speeds for traversal of tricky sections,” noted Perrone. “We surpass these efforts by using our innovative, super-efficient, and completely novel and patented autonomous engine, MAX®, that has over 16 years of engineering and over 33,000 on and off-road miles behind it. We also use AI, but as a tool, not a crutch.”
“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 home town company, Perrone Robotics, and work with our transit provider JAUNT, through Smart Mobility Inc., to bring this project to fruition.”
Perrone said that AVNU is electrically powered, so the shuttle is quiet and non-polluting, and it uses solar panels to significantly extend system range. AVNU has been extensively tested by Perrone Robotics, and testing data has been evaluated by Albemarle County and JAUNT prior to launch.