DUNEDIN, Fla. (WFLA) — A driverless vehicle is back on the street in Dunedin after a crash involving a 79-year-old woman.
AVA, an autonomous vehicle, started its first route on Thursday, nearly a year after officials paused the pilot program.
“I thought it was very wave of the future but it freaked me out a little bit to not see a driver,” Dunedin resident Elizabeth Liberatore said after seeing the vehicle for the first time Thursday.
“I would ride it. It’s an easy way to get around, relatively safe, and why not?” said Dunedin resident David Cannon.
The driverless shuttle was removed from service after running over the foot of a 79-year-old woman last June. Officials from Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority tell 8 On Your Side the vehicle was in manual mode at the time, and someone was operating it.
Now the driverless shuttle has only one route, on Douglas Avenue between Main Street and the Dunedin Public Library.
“We are excited for AVA to return to Dunedin with enhanced safety features and newer technology,” PSTA Chief Executive Officer Brad Miller said. “We invite people of all ages to enjoy and leave with a better understanding of how technology can help enhance safety all while providing clean-energy solutions that could transform transportation.”
Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski said the city is excited to welcome AVA back.
“Safety is always our number one priority. We have been working with PSTA and BEEP to learn how the new AVA platform has advanced technology and safety features,” the mayor said. “Riders will be able to park at the Library or Hale Center and shuttle to Main Street to walk and explore shops and restaurants in downtown Dunedin.”
The autonomous shuttle will operate at a maximum speed of 15 mph as part of a six-week pilot. Riders will be required to wear a seatbelt. Passengers are limited to one round trip.
Service is available from Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.