The introduction of autonomous buses in the Australian state of Victoria is a step closer to becoming reality, following the successful completion of the state’s first trial of the technology.
The final report on the Autonobus trial outlines key findings and recommendations to support the implementation of autonomous vehicles across Australia.
It reports on the 12-month project at La Trobe University’s Bundoora campus, including feedback from more than 500 passengers who experienced the world-class technology first-hand.
CEO of Keolis Downer, David Franks, said the pilot project demonstrated that safety, technical, operational and community requirements could be met for successful deployment now, “What we have learnt can assist us in making the roll out of autonomous vehicles a reality in the immediate future.
“The pilot project provided strong evidence autonomous buses present a significant opportunity in the short term to meet existing mobility needs and encourage more people on to public transport in Victoria and across Australia.
“The trial demonstrated autonomous buses can and should play an important role in the mobility mix as a complementary service to existing public transport.
“We now have the data to show they can operate safely within complex environments and that there is strong public support for them.
“All levels of Governments and the private sector must work together to ensure we have the right infrastructure and regulatory systems in place to facilitate the deployment of autonomous vehicles and ensure they are integrated into the planning process for transport and urban developments.”
“The vehicle was put through rigorous safety, technical, operational and passenger testing on a pre-programmed route, interacting with pedestrians, cars, buses and cyclists,” said CEO of HMI Technologies Dean Zabrieszach. “No other trial in Australia has tested an autonomous vehicle of this type in such a dense urban location.
“We have demonstrated that it can be done – safely, without incident and in compliance with road safety laws.
“The technology is ready for deployment in other similar environments where there is high activity and a controlled set of circumstances, including first and last mile transport services.”
The report includes a number of recommendations; including considering autonomous vehicles in future infrastructure planning and investment decisions, further trials of the technology and continued education and engagement to prepare communities for the arrival of autonomous vehicles.
Partly funded by the Victorian Government Smarter Journeys Program, the project brings together the private sector, academia and Victoria’s largest member organisation. It is a collaboration between VicRoads, Keolis Downer, La Trobe University, HMI Technologies, RACV and ARRB.
The aim of the passenger trial was to gain a better understanding of the technology and how to integrate it into the existing public transport systems to connect passengers to a transport hub – a concept known as last mile connectivity.
Dean Zabrieszach is the subject of The Big Interview in the next SMART Highways magazine.