What You Should Know:
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), Beep Inc. and NAVYA partner with Mayo Clinic to use autonomous vehicles to safely transport COVID-19 samples on their Jacksonville Campus.
Since March 30th, up to four autonomous vehicles began operating along an initial route, in full autonomous mode without attendants or other people onboard, to transport COVID-19 tests from a drive-thru testing site to a processing laboratory on Mayo Clinic campus.
The COVID-19 test samples are placed in secure containers prior to Mayo Clinic healthcare professionals loading the samples onto the shuttle.
For the first time in the United States, autonomous vehicles are being used to safely transport medical supplies and COVID-19 tests at Mayo Clinic in Florida. The autonomous vehicles are part of a new partnership between Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), Beep, and NAVYA.
Safely Transport COVID-19 Test Samples via Autonomous Vehicles
At a time when healthcare resources and personnel are stretched thin, the autonomous vehicles will facilitate the safe transport of COVID-19 tests collected at a drive-thru testing location at Mayo Clinic in Florida. Together, JTA, Beep, NAVYA, and Bestmile teams has created, tested and deployed the routes for the autonomous vehicles at Mayo Clinic in Florida to address the fluid developments of the COVID-19 pandemic. The routes are isolated from pedestrians, traffic, and staff. Beep, Mayo Clinic, and the JTA will closely monitor the service from a mobile command center to maintain safe operation.
On Monday, March 30, 2020, up to four autonomous vehicles began operating along an initial route, in fully autonomous mode without attendants or other people onboard, to transport COVID-19 tests from a drive-thru testing site to a processing laboratory on Mayo Clinic campus. The COVID-19 test samples are placed in secure containers prior to Mayo Clinic healthcare professionals loading the samples onto the shuttle.
“During a time of rapid change and uncertainty, the ability to think innovatively alongside the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, NAVYA, and Beep during the pandemic has strengthened all of our teams through community collaboration,” said Kent Thielen, M.D., CEO, Mayo Clinic in Florida. “Using artificial intelligence enables us to protect staff from exposure to this contagious virus by using cutting edge autonomous vehicle technology, and frees up staff time that can be dedicated to direct treatment and care for patients. We are grateful to JTA, Beep, and NAVYA for their partnership in these challenging times.”
Beep, an autonomous shuttle fleet service provider, transported the shuttles through Eagle Express Inc. from Lake Nona, Florida, an innovation hub 150 miles away from where the company is headquartered in Orlando, Florida. An additional shuttle is being utilized from the JTA’s Ultimate Urban Circulator (U2C) program. The JTA has actively tested AV technology since 2017 to prepare for conversion and expansion of its Skyway automated people mover in Downtown Jacksonville into a network powered by autonomous vehicles. The use of autonomous vehicles to safely transport and handle the COVID-19 samples is another example of how these vehicles can be repurposed in times of need.
“Mayo Clinic is known as a leader in innovation and technology for providing world-class healthcare services to their patients in so many important areas of medicine,” said Joe Moye, CEO, Beep, Inc. “It is both humbling and exciting to partner with them in bringing this innovative solution to support such a critical challenge facing our country. We are equally as proud to work with our partners at the JTA, NAVYA and Bestmile, a fleet orchestration and optimization software company, in making this happen and doing our part to support this important cause.”