First ever trial for autonomous shuttles

Key industry partners launch the first use case trial for autonomous vehicles in Australia.

A consortium including leading commercial partners and technical experts such as HMI Technologies, La Trobe University, RACV (Royal Automobile Club of Victoria), ARRB (Australian Road Research Group) and Keolis Downer will conduct a trial of autonomous vehicles in Victoria to explore the use of driverless shuttles in the context of a university’s student mobility requirements.

This is the first time such a project has been launched as a proof of concept to address first and last mile connectivity requirements.

The project, which has been partly funded through a $375,000 Victorian Government Smarter Journeys Programme grant will start in August 2017 and last for one year.

The project will start in August 2017 and last for one year. It aims to explore, through a model deployment in real operating conditions, the use of autonomous vehicles to create a re-usable commercial framework to support development of the requisite regulation and or legislation.

HMI Technologies is supplying a French built Navya 15-person shuttle for the duration of this trial.  This vehicle is fully autonomous (level 4), has no steering wheel and is electrically powered.

CEO of HMI Technologies Pty Ltd Australia, Dean Zabrieszach, comments: “autonomous vehicles are coming, whether we are ready or not, so we are taking this initiative to ensure we understand the implications for the community and Governments. Many people believe we are years away from seeing these vehicles on our roads, but we disagree. Increasing levels of automated technology are being delivered, now so it’s important we understand what is required for autonomous vehicles to operate safely here.”

RACV General Manager Public Policy, Brian Negus said that: “it is important that we assess the benefits and risks of this new technology and that we share this knowledge with transport authorities and the community, so that regulations can be considered for the State from first-hand experience. Having the vehicle available to us, will allow partners to evaluate the community’s reaction to this technology and to assess the ways in which autonomous vehicles broaden our transport options”.

La Trobe University’s Melbourne Campus will be used to test the vehicle, first with a limited proof of concept test (away from other traffic) and then in a real operating environment on the campus. The vehicle will be using GPS coordinates and state of the art sensor technology for detecting people or obstacles on its path.

“The University is already on its way towards creating smart campuses that make it easier for students to use technology and enhance their education experience,” said La Trobe University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Keith Nugent.

“Our Centre for Technology Infusion will be coordinating the shuttle trials and have long been involved in developing technology that links businesses, enhances mobility and shapes smart cities of the future.”

“We are excited to contribute to developing smarter mobility solutions and we hope that this will enable VicRoads and the Victorian Government to develop innovative technologies in Victoria. Autonomous vehicles are becoming an important part of the multimodal journey, and can help improve the passenger experience by providing an efficient connectivity solution for door to door journeys” comments Jonathan Myers, Head of Growth, Innovation and Partnerships at Keolis Downer.

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