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March 18, 2024


Krapf Transportation of West Chester, PA, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Navy Yard and many supporting agencies, is pleased to announce the debut of the first autonomous vehicle in service in Pennsylvania.

Following more than a year of trials, errors, testing, tweaking, and training, the 9-passenger electric-powered autonomous vehicle (AV) began transporting riders on February 27, 2024.

Navy Yard Autonomous ShuttlePerrone Robotics, based in Virginia, retrofitted a 2023 Ford e-Transit van to enable speedier implementation of the program under current state and federal guidelines.

Krapf employees, Don Brock and Ed Glenn, each went through a week of rigorous operator training at the Perrone facility to learn about the AV. Once the vehicle arrived at the Navy Yard, it needed to learn the route. With a human at the wheel, the Perrone techs adjusted the programming to mimic safe driving habits. The team constantly observed every detail along the route to learn if and how the vehicle would respond to various situations.

Any future adjustments to the programming will be made remotely from the Perrone headquarters.

For safety reasons, a human operator is required to sit behind the wheel of the AV and will be able to override the self-driving technology and take total control of the vehicle at any time. Per PennDOT requirements, each operator is required to have at least 200 hours of training in the vehicle.

In 2013, Krapf Transportation was awarded the first transportation contract with the Navy Yard. Krapf currently operates 7 full-size transit vehicles connecting the Navy Yard with center city Philadelphia. The new autonomous wheelchair-accessible vehicle will operate a four-stop, two-mile loop within the Navy Yard complex to make it easier to cross campus.

The Philadelphia Naval Shipyard closed in 1996 and since 2000, has become one of the most successful redevelopments of a military facility in the U.S. Today, the Navy Yard is a thriving, 1,200-acre business community where 150 companies occupy over 7.5 million square feet of office, industrial/manufacturing, and research and development space. It is a magnet for new businesses, employment, and investment in Philadelphia.