WA will trial automated shuttle busses this year. Photo Contributed
WA will trial automated shuttle busses this year. Photo Contributed Contributed

Self-driving bus to be trialled in WA

HERALDING the age of autonomous commercial vehicles in Australia, Western Australia will stage a trial of a self-driving and fully electric shuttle bus this year.

The shuttle which was launched in October last year is developed by NAVYA SAS a French company specialising in intelligent transport systems is 100% electric, can transport up to 15 passengers and safety drive up to 45kmh.

No specific infrastructure is needed for the shuttle which is suitable for urban areas, industrial sites, airports and hospitals.

The shuttle bus is entirely autonomous not requiring a driver at all. It uses 3D perception mapping with LIDAR sensors, GPS communication and cameras to estimate it's position in relation to obstacles.

WA Transport Minister Dean Nalder said his department was working closely with WA's motoring and insurance body RAC to ensure compliance with road and vehicle safety standards while they trialled the Aussie first 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.

The Minister said the Department of Transport was working with the RAC to identify the routes on Perth roads where the trials would take place.

"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.

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.

"Another of the safety features of the shuttle bus is its multi-sensor technology, providing 3D perception that allows it to map the environment, detect obstacles on the road and interpret traffic signs," the Minister said.

Mr Nalder 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.

  • In May, 205 Daimler Trucks became the world's first manufacturer to be granted a road licence for an autonomous heavy-duty truck. The trucks were granted the licence to drive on highway 15, Las Vegas Nevada.
  • In November 2015, Volvo tested the first autonomous car on Australian Roads. The trial took place in South Australia. The Volvo XC90 was tested at speeds up to 70km/h on a closed section of Adelaide's Southern Expressway.
  • In January this year Mercedes Benz tested an autonomous Actros on a German Highway with two children on board, an Engineer drove the truck to the A8 motorway before putting the truck on auto.
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