ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. – Perrone Robotics has teamed up with Albermale County and JAUNT, Inc., to announce a pilot program for Virginia’s first public autonomous shuttle service, with operation in Crozet, Va. The Autonomous Vehicle, Neighborhood Use (AVNU) service will be operated by Perrone’s TONY (TO Navigate You) autonomous shuttle technology, applied to a Polaris GEM electric vehicle.
The vehicle will drive fully autonomously, with a safety driver, through the county’s neighborhoods and downtown areas on public roads, navigating vehicle and pedestrian traffic, the company said. The base GEM vehicle meets federal safety standards for vehicles in its class, the company said in a statement.
“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 and 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 Albermarle County, Virginia. What we deliver is a platform that operates shuttles autonomously in complex environments with roundabouts, merges, and pedestrian-dense areas.”
The shuttle will offer riders trips within local residential developments, trips to connect neighborhoods, and connections from those areas to the downtown business district. Additional routes will be established after the pilot phase, including connector services for satellite parking, and connections with JAUNT’s commuter shuttles, which are also targeted for autonomous operation.
“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,” said Perrone. “We surpass these efforts by using our innovative, super-efficient, and completely novel and autonomous engine, Max, which 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.”
The company noted that AVNU has been extensively tested by Perrone Robotics and Albemarle County and JAUNT prior to the launch.
“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. “Albermarle County is so proud to support our hometown company, Perrone Robotics, and work with our transit provider JAUNT, through Smart Mobility, Inc., to bring this project to fruition.”