Autonomous Shuttle Bus Trial by Perrone Robotics and Albemarle County Successfully Completed

TONY is shown operating in Crozet, Virginia.
TONY is shown operating in Crozet, Virginia.

CROZET, Va. — Perrone Robotics, Inc. (PRI), in collaboration with Albemarle County today successfully concluded a three-month trial period of free public demonstration rides on the AVNU (“Autonomous Vehicle, Neighborhood Use”) shuttle.

The AVNU shuttle is classified as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV), and has industry-leading perception and guidance capabilities provided by PRI. AVNU drove fully autonomously (with safety monitor) on public roads within Crozet, navigating the vehicle, bike, and pedestrian traffic through intersections and roundabouts.

AVNU is based on a Polaris GEM e6 vehicle retrofitted with PRI’s TONY (TO Navigate You) autonomous transit kit that is available to be applied to a wide range of transit vehicles.

“We’re thrilled to have fielded the first open road autonomous shuttle here in Virginia, giving members of the public safe and smooth rides with zero incidents and zero safety interventions through complex intersections and traffic,” said Paul Perrone, CEO and founder of Perrone Robotics.

AVNU riders giving their opinion on their autonomous shuttle ride.
AVNU riders giving their opinion on their autonomous shuttle ride.

Perrone reported that “Through our partnership with the county, we were able to demonstrate autonomous transport to enhance the mobility and utility of riders is viable now in a typical American community. We have automated over 29 different types of vehicles, and operated them for over 33,500 autonomous miles over the past 16 years in the US and UK.”

The AVNU shuttle took riders around the Old Trail residential development in Crozet, Virginia, and from Old Trail to downtown Crozet, as well as from downtown Crozet into a different neighborhood and adjoining park. These shuttles traveled public roads with pedestrian, cyclist, and car/truck/bus traffic at varying times of the day.

AVNU was first tested by Perrone Robotics in simulation, then on the company’s test track and finally on public roads.

“We were very pleased to observe this pilot of the next generation of transportation—autonomous neighborhood shuttles—right here in Albemarle County, Virginia,” said Roger Johnson, Albemarle County’s economic development director. “The last-mile AVNU shuttle showed us how citizens that cannot drive, whether elderly or young, embraced the concept of an autonomous vehicle moving them safely to shops or restaurants. We can see how more of these shuttles would alleviate common parking issues, and how using EVs is also great for reducing noise and pollution. We look forward to Perrone Robotics’ growth in this space and fully expect their success to continue.”

Feedback from riders has been extremely positive. Many riders appreciated the service which took them to dining, shopping and other local services. Elderly riders, in particular, enjoyed the possibility of increased mobility and fully supported the shuttles.

Looking forward, PRI and the county will identify new trial areas, evaluate retrofitting larger transit vehicles. The two organizations seek to increase the number of operational units, thus enabling regular service offering more dynamic mobility for the benefit of county residents. www.tonyshuttle.com

The final 29-page report to Albemarle County is posted at: https://www.perronerobotics.com/county-shuttle-report

Perrone Robotics, Inc.

Perrone Robotics is the creator of the “TONY” Autonomous Transit retrofit kit, built on MAX, a general-purpose software platform for robotics and autonomous vehicles. TONY is intended to commercially enable practical and autonomous shuttling of people and things. With over 16 years of experience and over 33,500 miles autonomously driven, Perrone Robotics’ autonomous technology enables standard vehicles of any size to become self-driving. https://www.perronerobotics.com

The AVNU autonomous shuttle.
The AVNU autonomous shuttle.