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Treasure Island Robo-Bus Trial Secures Florida-Based Operator, Beep

Written by Garrett LeahyPublished Oct. 25, 2022 • 4:57pm
Treasure Island's robo-buses will look similar to these at the University of Michigan campus. | Courtesy of Navya

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Florida-based Beep was selected Tuesday to operate driverless buses for Treasure Island’s driverless shuttles pilot program.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority’s autonomous shuttle pilot program aims to increase mobility for island residents while slashing reliance on cars. 

Two shuttles will transport residents and visitors as soon as late this year or early 2023.

Each driverless shuttle will have a human safety driver and will run past the ferry terminal, the local YMCA, along Gateview Avenue and past the island’s sole grocery store, Island Cove Market.

The $825,000 contract between Beep and the city will last for two and a half years and was awarded by the Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency Board, part of the SF County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) that oversees transit on the island and is made up of the 11 county supervisors.

Treasure Island, Yerba Buena Island (top) and the Bay Bridge are seen from this drone view on May 13, 2021. | Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

Beep specializes in creating driverless shuttles for corporate campuses, colleges and transit agencies. 

According to Beep’s website, its vehicles run along 3D-mapped, preplanned routes and use sensors as “virtual eyes” to respond to surroundings. Beep currently operates in nine locations nationwide, including Yellowstone National Park and Jacksonville and Tampa in Florida.

Beep was one of three companies to apply to provide the shuttles for the pilot program, alongside New Zealand-based Ohmio and Michigan-based May Mobility. No San Francisco-based driverless vehicle companies bid for the contract.

A final shuttle route will be created in coordination with Beep, Treasure Island mobility bosses, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the Treasure Island Development Authority, as well as public feedback.

SFCTA spokesperson Eric Young said that the vehicles used by Beep will be bought from French firm Navya’s range of Autonom shuttles. 

Each bus will seat up to 10 passengers, or nine in total if one is a wheelchair user.

Beep was chosen as its vehicles can accept more passengers than competing companies and are better at accommodating wheelchair users and others with limited mobility, Young said.

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The contract pilot program runs for nine months and will allow time for planning, testing, training and an evaluation period after the pilot ends. There is no designated pilot start date at this time.

“We need some time ironing out details with Beep,” Young said of the start date.

Treasure Island is building 8,000 new homes over the next few years.

Beep was contacted for comment.

A Tuesday virtual town hall to collect public opinions on the shuttle pilot runs from 6-7 p.m., and a survey to collect community feedback ends Oct. 31.

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Garrett Leahy can be reached at [email protected]


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