The University of Melbourne is launching
its own autonomous mini shuttle bus, designed for low-speed urban environments,
under a three-year partnership with French company EasyMile, specialists in
autonomous vehicle technology. The University will be the innovation hub for
EasyMile in Australia and New Zealand.
The inclusion of open platform technology is a unique
feature of this collaboration. This will allow the vehicle to be regularly
updated by researchers and improved as autonomous software advances.
University of Melbourne Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis said that
the vehicle will provide researchers unprecedented access to autonomous
technology, putting students at the forefront of research and development.
Professor Davis said, “The world is on the edge of a
transport revolution. Technology is transforming the transport industry,
impacting not only the way we travel, but also the way we live.”
“Having our own autonomous vehicle at the University of
Melbourne gives students and academics the opportunity to focus their research
projects on real-life transport solutions to improve safety, sustainability and
reduce congestion,” he added.
Head of EasyMile Asia Pacific Simon Pearce said, “This
vehicle is a functioning example of what the future of mobility for end users
looks like, combining the benefits and flexibility of the technology with the
economy of group transportation.”
University of Melbourne Professor in Transport for Smart
Cities and AIMES Director Majid Sarvi said industry and research partnerships
play an important role in transport’s future.
“The benefits of autonomous vehicles are only realised if
they are connected with other transport solutions,” Professor Sarvi said.
“By partnering with EasyMile through projects such as the
University’s Australian Integrated Multimodal EcoSystem (AIMES) – a
world-first living laboratory based in the streets of Melbourne – we are able
to test highly integrated transport technology that make a real difference to
people’s lives,” he said.
AIMES is a world-first living laboratory based in the
streets of Melbourne. Central to AIMES is a network of smart sensors designed
to connect all parts of the transport environment within a segment of Melbourne
streets. The focus is on ‘multimodal’ transport — connected vehicles, connected
public transport, connected pedestrians and cyclists, and smart public
Under AIMES, the University is working with more than 40
industry, government and academic partners, designing a highly-integrated,
intelligent ecosystem to deliver safer, cleaner and more sustainable urban
“Having our own autonomous vehicle ensures researchers can
further improve autonomous vehicle safety and how this integrates with other
transport options,” added Professor Sarvi.