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"Welcome to the Jetsons Era": Take a Ride on Beep Autonomous Shuttle in Lake Nona

A Beep shuttle is parked at the Village Green in Lake Nona. Photo: Danielle Prieur
A Beep shuttle is parked at the Village Green in Lake Nona. Photo: Danielle Prieur

Drivers in Lake Nona began sharing the roads with two autonomous shuttles on Wednesday.

The bright white Beep shuttles carry ten passengers at a time along a fixed route between Lake Nona Town Center and Laureate Park Village Center. 

The cars can only go about 15 mph but they provide free public transportation for Lake Nona residents and visitors. 

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says he wants to expand this service or something like it into the downtown area.

“We would like to advance the technology so that we can use autonomous vehicles for the LYMMO system downtown eventually. I don’t see that happening in the next year or so but we’re certainly working toward that.”

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Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings says the driverless shuttles are an extension of Walt Disney’s dream for Central Florida and says one day they could carry tourists between theme parks and other attractions.

“I can certainly see something like this of use in our tourism corridor out on the International Drive area around the Convention Center where we have to move significant numbers of people.”

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French company NAVYA designed the cars to stop at stop signs and yield for pedestrians. 

CEO Jerome Rigaud says they’re already in talks to expand these services into other Florida cities. 

"You can think of industry offsite. You can think of universities. You can think of hospitals. I mean there are so many uses where again we want to give a new rider, passenger experience and that’s what the shuttle is here for."

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The shuttle service leaves designated stops every 10 to 15 minutes between 10 am and 2 pm and then again between 6 pm and 10 pm every day. 

An attendant in each car can take over the controls during an emergency.

The cars are not ADA-approved and cannot accommodate booster or car seats. Children under the age of 16 are required to ride with a parent or guardian and wear a seat belt. 

For more information on the shuttles click on the link.
If you'd like to listen to the story, click on the clips above.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.