The (semi) autonomous bus shuttle service that was launched in downtown Orlando this past August has been put on temporary hiatus, according to the City of Orlando.
The SWAN Shuttle Service, powered by BEEP (Website), an Orlando-based autonomous shared mobility solution company, was part of a pilot program in partnership with the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX), and was meant to gather data on how shared, electric, and autonomous vehicles can be a part of Orlando’s transportation future.
The fare-free (semi) autonomous vehicle shuttle started testing a route that connected Lynx Central Station and SunRail to the adjacent Creative Village on August 20, working a circular route around I-4 through Parramore. Just two days later, on August 22, it had its first crash, involving a LYNX bus, as you can see below in a video that has over 1 million views on TikTok.
At the time, it was reported that only the front bumper of the BEEP was damaged in the crash and no injuries were reported.
A second incident occurred on November 4, when a shuttle hit another LYNX bus at the intersection of Amelia and Garland Avenues, in which again, no injuries were reported.
According to a report by Scott Maxwell for Orlando Sentinel, BEEP CEO Joe Moye blamed the human attendant riding in the shuttle, for the incident. Which means, a) the autonomous shuttles aren’t really autonomous, b) the driver was probably fired, and c) we’re not going to call it an “autonomous shuttle” anymore.
Full disclosure, you can see an attendant in the first video above, trying to stop the shuttle from colliding with the LYNX bus by pressing an interface to her left.
City spokesperson Ashley Papagni shared that the city is working with its partners to resume SWAN Shuttle Service after a review of the incidents has concluded, in cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“The City, LYNX and our autonomous shuttle service partner remain committed to the pilot program as we look to advance Orlando’s Future-Ready efforts. Our goals are to connect communities by investing in state-of-the-art technology and offering sustainable transit solutions that are safe, efficient and environmentally friendly. Through this pilot, the information gathered from this process will help assist and educate the city on the next steps moving forward.
As with any new system we introduce, we appreciate the opportunity the pilot program presents to allow us and our partners to learn what we can improve upon and apply to any future initiatives with the goal of creating safer roadways for all of our residents.“– ASHLEY PAPAGNI, CITY OF ORLANDO OPUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER
City Hall hopes to have the pilot running again in the coming months.