TONY Spotted Downtown

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Perrone’s TONY spotted around town. Submitted photo.

TONY (To Navigate You), Perrone Robotic’s autonomous shuttle, is out on the street and visiting businesses around town. Don Perrone said there was no definite date for the public to be served by TONY yet, but if all goes well, a launch can be expected in mid May. In the meantime, he said, “TONY will be busy running on the streets and roads of Crozet, as it is doing now, attracting a lot of interest from our fellow Crozetians and neighbors, which is a lot of fun.”

Perrone’s David Hofert said buildout and testing is going extremely well, and TONY now has the necessary sensors to make sure the shuttle ‘sees’ any obstacles in its path on the test track and shuttle routes, with Perrone’s trained engineers and technicians monitoring the system and ready to take over controls.

Hofert said Perrone is working with the County and JAUNT bi-weekly on plans and tests to make sure the shuttle is compatible with police, fire, and ambulance vehicles on the road. He said this collaboration is unique in the autonomous vehicle world, combining the insights from Perrone’s 16 years worth of experience with the perspectives of JAUNT and Albemarle officials.

Perrone has also been talking to other governments and organizations in Virginia and across the country with an interest in autonomous shuttles, part of Perrone Robotics’ plan for “bringing practical autonomous transit technology to the world today, versus five or ten years out,” Hofert said. “Our work in Crozet is the springboard to that vision, and Crozet will become known as the place where it all started.” 

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