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New South Wales Government initiates trial of driverless shuttle bus

Photo credit: Transport for NSW

The Transport Minister of the state of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia, Andrew Constance and Roads, Maritime and Freight Minister, Melinda Pavey, launched the trial of a driverless shuttle bus today. This will be the first precinct-based trial of an automated shuttle in Australia.

Legislation to allow the trial to go ahead has been introduced into Parliament. The trial is being conducted by the NSW government in collaboration with HMI Technologies, National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA), Telstra, IAG and Sydney Olympic Park Authority.

The NSW Government established the Smart Innovation Centre, to work with industry to develop trials like this and explore smarter solutions for future transport plans.

The Centre will work with partners to understand what supporting technology and infrastructure is needed to operate an automated shuttle in this environment, how it interacts with other precinct users (pedestrians, cyclists etc.) and how it integrates with the broader transport network.  It will also help gain a better understanding of passengers’ responses to this type of vehicle and the services it can enable, like on-demand transport in off-peak times.

These learnings are expected to be a direct input into the NSW government’s future transport planning and investment decisions to continue providing the best outcomes for transport customers across NSW.  It will also help industry develop technology, products and services to deliver improved mobility for customers.

The trial will be conducted in three stages. Stage 1 (Q3 2017) of the trial will involve testing in an enclosed off-road environment at Newington Armory, adjacent to Sydney Olympic Park. In the second stage (Q4 2017) initial operations will be conducted at a closed section of Sydney Olympic Park. The third and final stage (Q1 2018) will see the shuttle operating live at Sydney Olympic Park.

The Smart Innovation Centre, enablers of this trial, will be providing updates through their website about how people can go for a ride on the shuttle.

Mr Constance said, “The trial, starting later this month, showcases a small part of our much bigger vision for a technology-enabled transport future. Today we drive our cars but the reality is, cars will soon drive us and while we are not there yet, we need to be prepared for this change and we need to stay ahead of the game.”

“The ultimate goal of the trial is to find the best way to harness the next generation of driverless technology and how to make it work for NSW while also answering questions about how it can improve safety and reliability,” he added.

Mrs. Pavey said, “We expect office workers at Sydney Olympic Park to be using the automated shuttle next year, becoming the first to test-ride this new technology before we start seeing it on our roads. This trial is not only about automated vehicles, it is also about connectivity. We want to use the trial to help develop the systems that will enable automated vehicles to be connected to our infrastructure, like traffic lights and to our customers through their devices and applications. It’s the combination of connectivity and automation that will provide the safety and mobility benefits we are looking for.”

The legislation mentioned earlier in the article will enable the trialing of highly and fully automated vehicles in NSW. The Smart Innovation Centre is inviting proposals for trials. Trialing organisations must demonstrate how they will comply with the criteria in the Guidelines for Trials of Automated Vehicles in Australia and NSW legislation, including provision of a safety management plan; appropriate insurance policies and agree to provide certain data from the trial vehicle’s black box within prescribed timeframes if required to assist in evaluating the trial.

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