A driverless public electric shuttle will this week start operating around the Tonsley Innovation District in South Australia as part of a five-year trial, marking the first use of autonomous vehicle technology on public roads in the state. The Navya Arma Flinders Express (FLEX) electric shuttle will transport passengers -- who can book a free ride from Wednesday -- at speeds of up to 30km, and will be managed by an on-board chaperone who will advise passengers and ensure safety, according to Flinders University, which partnered with industry supporters for the trial. Driven to distraction: Why IBM's Watson is getting onboard with self-driving vehicles and impatient passengers IBM has teamed up with Local Motors for a new autonomous vehicle. Here's how it will handle difficult passengers - and why you won't be able to buy one. FLEX will operate on weekdays between 10am to 2pm, and will initially provide services between Clovelly Park Train Station and Tonsley's Main Assembly Building, and connections to bus stops on the main South Road and businesses in the Tonsley precinct.
Melbourne's La Trobe University has detailed findings of what it called successful on-campus trials of Navya's driverless "Autonobus" shuttle, which uses 360-degree cameras and sensor systems to detect objects and runs a set route based on map coordinates. A report on the trial by La Trobe and its project partners includes a number of recommendations, including further trials of the technology; considering autonomous vehicles in future infrastructure planning and investment decisions; and education and engagement of communities on autonomous vehicles. The Autonobus -- which drove students around La Trobe's Bundoora campus as part of a trial until July -- passed every test it went through, including safety, technical, operational, and passenger testing on a pre-programmed route, and interacting with pedestrians, cars, buses, and cyclists, according to Dean Zabrieszach, CEO of project partner HMI Technologies. "No other trial in Australia has tested an autonomous vehicle of this type in such a dense urban location," Zabrieszach said. "We have demonstrated that it can be done safely, without incident, and in compliance with road safety laws."
The New South Wales government has welcomed the first passengers on its Driverless Smart Shuttle at Sydney Olympic Park, with the service set to officially start next week, marking stage two of the state's driverless trial. Through its Smart Innovation Centre -- a hub for the "collaborative" research and development of safe and efficient emerging transport technology -- the NSW government in August last year partnered with HMI Technologies, NRMA, Telstra, IAG, and the Sydney Olympic Park Authority to conduct a two-year trial of the shuttle. Legislation was passed alongside the formation of the hub to approve trials of automated vehicles. The hub has since added the University of Technology Sydney, to enable the NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight. The legislation allows government to partner with industry, researchers, and universities to be a testing ground for automated vehicles, with the trial touted as bringing driverless cars a step closer to reality in Australia.
Following a AU 1.2 million investment, the Victorian government, in conjunction with the Transport Accident Commission and VicRoads, has partnered with automotive parts giant Bosch for the development of the first self-driving vehicle in Australia. According to Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan, the vehicle under construction in Clayton, Victoria, has been designed to navigate roads with or without driver input and includes the ability to detect and avoid hazards such as pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles. "By removing human error from the equation, self-driving vehicles will play a critical role in reducing deaths and serious injuries on Victorian roads," Donnellan said. "This self-driving car is at the forefront of automated vehicle technology and it's been developed right here in Melbourne by local engineers." The minister said trials of the self-driving vehicle will be used to inform the development of regulations and infrastructure to enable similar cars to operate on the state's roads in the future.