The Jacksonville Transportation Authority unveiled its first track for testing possible replacements for the Skyway’s monorail cars.
JTA will be testing different autonomous vehicles for the next two years.
On a windy Wednesday across the street from Intuition Ale Works in downtown Jacksonville, a small child and his mother, along with a number of other residents, boarded one of a few possible candidates for replacing the Skyway cars.
The $300,000 autonomous vehicle fits 12 people and includes a touchscreen display and tinted windows.
JTA Vice President for Innovation Brad Thoburn said this particular vehicle is just the first of many that residents will be able to test for themselves over the next couple of years.
“I don’t have a final number on which vehicles, but we’re going to be bringing them in three to six month periods where they’re going to run,” he said. “What we’re going to learn out of this is how each one of those vehicles learns. What are the specifications we need for the vehicles to use on the U2C project?”
U2C stands for the Ultimate Urban Circulator.
The new test track, which Thoburn hopes will collect valuable data for JTA, will function by ferrying people from Intuition to the stadium and Daily’s Place Amphitheater during special events.
Eventually Thoburn said the plan is to connect downtown to all of the city’s historic, urban core neighborhoods and increase the frequency of the current skyway cars to once every couple of minutes.
The first test vehicle is the EZ10 from EasyMile/Transdev. It can either operate in a loop, as is being done in the JTA test, or in an “on demand” service mode, according to EasyMile’s website.
The zero-emissions people mover is powered by a Lithium-ion battery that has a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour and can operate for up to 14 hours.