The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is expanding its autonomous vehicle testing program to include Florida State College at Jacksonville after using test vehicles at a Downtown test track and the Mayo Clinic.
“As we continue to develop our autonomous vehicle program, it is vital that higher education and the workforce of tomorrow is included in that conversation,” said JTA Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. in an email to WJCT News.
The test vehicles are part of JTA’s Ultimate Urban Circulator (U2C) program, which is intended to expand the Skyway’s footprint to ground level and eventually adapt the elevated tracks for driverless electric vehicles that will likely one day replace the monorail trains.
JTA is working on a connected autonomous vehicle network for Downtown Jacksonville that is envisioned to expand into other urban core neighborhoods.
The first phase, the Bay Street Innovation Corridor, is fully funded.
JTA’s board has approved a memorandum of understanding with FSCJ that sets the groundwork for the JTA to expand its current U2C Test & Learn Program to FSCJ’s Cecil Center, which houses the school’s Aviation and Commercial Vehicle Driving programs.
“Our community is leading the way to the future of autonomous vehicles,” said FSCJ President Dr. John Avendano. “This partnership will provide innovative educational opportunities to the workforce in order to prepare our students for the next generation of automotive technology.”
JTA and FSCJ will use the testing as a learning experience for students to work on what the industry calls an “agile plan.” Agile plans use low-speed driverless people movers where there is a unique transportation need. The JTA/FSCJ agile plan will be developed for on-campus use.
JTA has also been using its autonomous test vehicles at the Mayo Clinic’s Jacksonville campus to transport COVID-19 tests.