news Australia’s first “fully driverless” and electric shuttle bus took to the streets of South Perth yesterday for the on-road stage of its ongoing trial, according to the RAC.
During the trial, the RAC Intellibus will carry passengers and interact with traffic, parked cars, cyclists and pedestrians as it negotiates a portion of South Perth Esplanade.
The automated vehicle can transport up to 11 passengers at a time and will operate at an average speed of 25km per hour.
The RAC said it has been working with the State Government, technicians and the vehicle’s manufacturer, NAVYA, to undertake “significant testing” of the shuttle in a closed environment.
“This trial is an Australian-first, and will be a real trial incorporating members of the public travelling on public roads,” RAC Group CEO Terry Agnew said.
Rather than being an immediate precursor to a driverless bus service, the trial is aimed to “start a conversation” on further trials, research and collaboration, said Agnew, who added that the process would increase Western Australia’s understanding of how driverless vehicles can integrate into the transport system.
“The trial will help WA develop a roadmap of changes that will need to occur for driverless vehicles to safely transition on to our roads and become an integrated part of our transport system,” he said.
Sue Doherty, Mayor for the City of South Perth, said the South Perth foreshore was a good location for the trial.
“In the future, this innovative form of public transport has the potential to help alleviate traffic congestion by reducing the number of vehicles on the road, and at the same time having a positive impact on the environment,” she added.
The RAC recently surveyed almost 1,000 Western Australians on their attitudes towards driverless technology.
According to the research, 46% said they think it will result in less traffic congestion, 70% said it will give more freedom and independence to the ageing and those with mobility difficulties, and 53% said it will result in fewer car crashes and reduce the severity of crashes.
A further 60% said it will mean daily travel time can be used more effectively and productively doing other activities.
The RAC said its members and the public can register for a chance to ride the Intellibus and participate in the trial at the RAC website.