Krapf Transportation operates Pennsylvania’s first autonomous passenger vehicle

Krapf Transportation of West Chester, Pennsylvania, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Navy Yard and many supporting agencies, announced the debut of the first autonomous vehicle to do passenger service in Pennsylvania.

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

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

Krapf Transportation
Krapf Transportation will operate Pennsylvania’s first autonomous passenger vehicle.

Krapf employees Don Brock and Ed Glenn went through a week of 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 observed details 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, a UMA Member, was awarded the first transportation contract with the Navy Yard. Krapf currently operates seven 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 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.

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