The Western Australian government has announced that it will initiate a staged trial of driverless vehicles in the form of a fully automatic shuttle bus to take place in 2016
The new shuttle bus was developed by NAVYA SAS, a French company specialising in intelligent transport systems, and can carry up to 15 passengers and has a maximum speed of 45kmh with an average speed of 25kmh.
WA’s trial is the first of its kind in Australia, as the vehicles themselves are the first of their kind in the country, and will allow the Royal Automobile Club (RAC), with support from the state government, to understand and learn about autonomous vehicle technology.
Although this is the first of its kind with shuttle buses in Australia, the South Australian government initiated its own driverless vehicle trial with Volvo in July 2015.
WA Minister for Transport Dean Nalder said the Department of Transport was working closely with the RAC to ensure compliance with road and vehicle safety standards while they trialled an autonomous shuttle bus.
“It is not a matter of if this technology will come to WA, but when it will, and that time is fast approaching. Initially, the trials will be conducted at RAC’s driving centre, but eventually the shuttle will take to Perth roads,” Mr Nalder said.
Mr Nalder said the Department of Transport was working with the RAC to identify the routes on Perth roads where the trials would take place.
He said it is important West Australians are aware this technology is not confined to Hollywood blockbusters, but is actually coming to Perth.
“To ensure we are working towards providing the best integrated and intelligent transport services and solutions for the State, it is important to trial new innovative modes of transport, and this is one of those modes,” Mr Nalder said.
According to the WA government, these types of vehicles are being tested and trialled in other countries and have autonomous features such as radar cruise control and lane detection warning systems.
Mr Nalder added that the shuttle buses have safety features installed including multi-sensor technology, providing 3D perception that allows it to map the environment, detect obstacles on the road and interpret traffic signs.
He said the state government would benefit from the partnering between RAC and the Department of Transport, as experts from both worked together on this innovative and important transport project.