Autonomous vehicles transport COVID-19 tests to Mayo Clinic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — With the COVID-19 outbreak, health care resources and staffers are stretched thin. That’s why the Jacksonville Transportation Authority teamed up with Beep and Navya to help transport COVID-19 tests to the Mayo Clinic, using autonomous vehicles.

“When the coronavirus really started taking hold -- the pandemic started taking hold -- one of the challenges was the movement of samples, the specimens on the campus. We have four vehicles on the Mayo campus. We’re running those specimens from the drive-thru testing location tent, and taking it across the campus to their laboratory,” said Nathaniel Ford, chief executive officer for the JTA.

Since Monday, Ford said they’re averaging about 100 samples a day. By next week, he said they should be doing about 1,000-1,200 samples a week.

“It allows a lot of their personnel -- health care personnel -- to be freed up to (perform) other more critical duties,” said Ford.

Ford is really glad it can help the people who really need it.

“They are under a lot of pressure. They’ve got a great deal of work they need to perform, and we are able to help them do what they do best,” he said.