Self-driving vehicles may not be ready for consumers for a number of reasons, but new uses are being found for them because of COVID-19.
At the Mayo Clinic in Florida, fully autonomous vehicles are being used to transport medical supplies.
The Jacksonville Transportation Department (JTA), Beep and driverless vehicle company Navya are using self-driving vehicles to transport COVID-19 tests collected at drive-through testing locations at Mayo Clinic.
Four autonomous vehicles have been operating without attendants or other people aboard, driving tests from testing sites to a processing laboratory on Mayo Clinic’s campus.
The test samples are placed in secure containers before healthcare professionals put the samples onto the shuttle.
“During a time of rapid change and uncertainty, the ability to think innovatively has strengthened all of our teams through community collaboration,” stated 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.”
The routes are isolated form pedestrians, traffic and staff, according to JTA.
This could be one of the most practical uses for autonomous vehicles, especially not carrying any people.