Q&A With Beep CEO
Nov. 12, 2020—Beep, an autonomous shuttle program based out of Florida, recently announced the location of its next pilot program—Yellowstone National Park.
With companies like Cruise and Waymo deploying in autonomous vehicles in California, Beep is looking to set itself apart from the crowd and offer a unique perspective on the ways in which autonomous vehicles can shape our world view.
ADAPT spoke with Beep CEO, Joe Moye, to learn about the program, its historic location, and what’s next for the company.
Q: Why did Beep choose to partner with the National Parks Service?
A: Beep sees tremendous value in working alongside NPS and Yellowstone National Park to test out these technologies as they look to improve the visitor experience at the park.
Q: How many vehicles do you plan to deploy?
A: Beep will be deploying 2 electric, autonomous shuttles in the Village Canyon, Wyo., area of Yellowstone National Park. These will be the first autonomous shuttles launched at a National Park.
Q: What is the vehicle design of the AVs that will be operating in Yellowstone?
A: Beep proposed three AV platforms to NPS during the proposal. They all seat 8 to 10 passengers. The designs are very accommodating with a modern look and a full step-in cabin with a low profile designed for a comfortable and friendly rider experience. We will be selecting the final brand of autonomous shuttle before the end of the year in concert with NPS based on the ultimate route selected for the service.
The vehicle is fully driverless following a fixed route at a controlled speed. Each shuttle will be supported and monitored by an onboard specialist and our Beep Global Command Center to ensure the safe operation of the vehicle.
Q: How does Beep hope to improve viewer experience with the use of AVs in National Parks?
A: The two electric autonomous shuttles Beep will deploy in the Village Canyon area of Yellowstone National Park have large glass windows and an open design enabling passengers to experience and see the outdoors while riding in the vehicle.
The attendant onboard will also serve as both an ambassador to autonomous technology and to the park by providing information to riders about key destinations along the route.
Q: How is the path decided? Will the AV make stops along the route?
A: Multiple paths are under consideration with the Yellowstone team and we are supporting this planning effort. Ultimately, the objective is to conduct this test in an area which will provide expanded mobility to a good sample of visitors and campers connecting various lodges, camping areas and other services in Canyon Village.
The shuttle stops and frequency will also be evaluated with the Beep and Yellowstone team to provide a level of service that best accommodates visitor’s needs.
Q: How are the staffers of Yellowstone being involved in the project?
A: We are working with the Yellowstone leadership team to finalize the exact route to be deployed based on the optimal ridership opportunity for visitors and campers.
Q: How does Beep ensure the vehicle will not damage the landscape it occupies?
A: Our vehicles operate on a fixed route engineered by our team and do not deviate from the predetermined path. The vehicles are equipped with a series of sensors (camera, radar and LiDAR) to provide a 360 degree view of the environment around the vehicle.
This allows it to detect cyclists, pedestrians, wildlife, other vehicles or anything that may be in the vehicle’s path or alongside the vehicle.
Q: What is the timeline for the project?
A: The project is expected to start in May 2021 and last through August 2021.
Prior to the deployment, Beep will work with Yellowstone to establish stop locations in the Village Canyon area, shuttle frequency and routes. We will also have a team on the ground in the months leading up the launch to safely evaluate and plan the route.
The operation will be supervised through on-the-ground support at Yellowstone and constant supervision through Beep Global Command Center.
Q: Is this Beep’s first official launch?
A: Beep has planned, operated and managed deployments throughout Florida and in Arizona. We are currently operating the largest and longest running single site AV fleet in the United States in Lake Nona, a 17-square-mile planned, neo-urban community located in Orlando.
In Lake Nona, we are operating four routes and eight shuttles servicing multiple-use cases and areas of the community.
Q: If this goes successfully, what are Beep's next projects?
A: We are also operating and currently planning two Florida Department of Transportation funded projects utilizing autonomous shuttles to work in concert with their existing transit network and services.
Beep sees value in testing these autonomous vehicle platforms in various use cases and environments, including Yellowstone National Park. It is our hope and goal to have the opportunity to engage other projects at Yellowstone and other parks upon the successful testing of this service. We have many ongoing projects in private and public communities but this will be our first with the National Park Service.