All aboard the driverless bus

The ‘Autonobus’
The ‘Autonobus’

In a Victorian first, a driverless shuttle bus has begun trundling around La Trobe University’s Bundoora campus in a trial that will help shape the future of public transport.

The ‘Autonobus’ will operate along Science Drive, at first in test mode, then from March picking up passengers from car parks and bus/tram interchanges and allowing them to hop off close to their destination.

The RACV-supported trial will run until July 2018, looking at all aspects of safety, operations, passenger experience and integration with other forms of transport.

Made by Navya, the Autonobus is equipped with advanced sensor systems that can detect potential collisions with very fast response times. It operates without a driver, but for the trial period it will be supervised by an operator at all times, allowing the trial team to monitor the vehicle and how it interacts with its environment, and to measure passenger acceptance and behaviour.

With human error contributing to more than 90 per cent of crashes, automated vehicles have enormous potential to reduce the road toll, and to help those with limited mobility travel more easily.

RACV’s general manager of public policy and corporate affairs, Bryce Prosser, says the project will explore world-leading driverless technology.

“This is an exciting opportunity to look into the future of transport and how autonomous vehicles can be used to meet passenger demand and complement existing transport options,” Mr Prosser says.

“The purpose of the trial is to gain a better understanding of the technology – how it works, how it can best be developed and how it can be implemented. We will look at all aspects of safety, operations and integration.”

Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan says the project shows that Victoria is at the forefront of automated vehicle technology.

“Automated vehicles will revolutionise how we move around our communities, that’s why we’re investing in trials that explore ways technology can be used to reduce congestion and keep people safe on our roads.”

Autonobus is a collaboration between VicRoads, founding partner Keolis Downer, La Trobe University, HMI, RACV and ARRB.

RACV is also involved in trials of automated cars on Melbourne freeways. The trials began in August to test vehicles with partial automation on the Monash-Citylink-Tullamarine corridor.

Those who would like to be take part in the trial can register their interest at latrobe.edu.au/autonobus

Written by RACV
November 13, 2017