​WA to trial driverless shuttle bus

An electronic driverless shuttle bus developed by French company Navya SAS will be trialled on Perth roads this year.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

A driverless and fully electric shuttle bus will be tested in Western Australia this year in an Australian-first.

Initially, the trials will be conducted at the RAC's driving centre but eventually the shuttle will take to Perth roads, Transport Minister Dean Nalder said on Tuesday.

Similar vehicles are being trialled in other countries and have autonomous features such as radar cruise control and lane detection warning systems.

"Another of the safety features of the shuttle bus is its multi-sensor technology, providing 3D perception that allows it to map the environment, detect obstacles on the road, and interpret traffic signs," Nalder said.

The shuttle bus has been developed by Navya SAS, a French company specialising in intelligent transport systems.

The bus can transport up to 15 passengers and has a maximum speed of 45km/h with an average speed of 25km/h.

Labor's Alannah MacTiernan, the federal member for Perth, welcomed the trial and urged the Liberal state government to consider using the autonomous shuttles to deal with chronic parking problems at Perth train stations.

"Autonomous vehicles could potentially double the capacity of existing roads, which will need to be taken into account in deciding on funding for road and public transport infrastructure," she said.

"They will have a major impact on fuel excise by dramatically increasing fuel efficiency, requiring the federal government to look at road user charging to fill the shortfall."

In November last year, the South Australian government and national independent road research agency ARRB Group successfully carried out the country's first driverless car trial on Adelaide's Southern Expressway. The trial involved two Volvo XC90 vehicles that demonstrated automatic lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, and active queue assist.

The ARRB Group announced its intentions to run the trial last July, saying at the time that it was in discussions with other Australian governments to run similar trials.

"Driverless cars have a range of benefits that could significantly improve road safety and the quality of life of everyday Australians, add to the nation's economic competitiveness and help relieve rapidly growing congestion that is crippling our infrastructure and creating productivity deficits in our capital cities," ARRB Group managing director Gerard Waldron said at the time.

Last September, researchers at Deakin University partnered with General Motors (GM) to focus on developing "innovative and competitive" solutions for the future of the automotive market.

Deakin said the centre would develop technology-driven automotive products and that the initial focus of the new centre will be to develop advanced constitutive and failure models, including calibration test procedures, before implementing the models into commercial software.

Meanwhile, Japanese car manufacturer Nissan has previously said it will have road-ready autonomous cars by 2020. Hyandai also said it was pushing for commercial self-driving cars within the next five years, whilst Ford announced it was moving its autonomous driving technology research plans upward to a full-scale advanced engineering program.

Additionally, New Zealand's Transport Agency announced last August it was commissioning a study of the country's technical readiness for the deployment of automated vehicles, including the state of digital mapping and networks required to enable operation.

With AAP

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