Dean Nalder, West Australia’s Transport Minister, announced that the trial for the driverless bus will start at the Royal Automobile Club’s driving center, but the bus will make its way to Perth’s roads sometime in 2016. The test will involve a single electric shuttle bus, which will be equipped with “multi-sensor technology.”
The electric bus is built by a French transport company called Navya SAS. The bus uses semi-autonomous radar and camera-based technologies already found in many autonomous cars. It will be completely unmanned and rely on 3D perception for mapping its nearby environment, identify road obstacles and understand traffic signs.
The bus will be able to carry 15 passengers at a time. It can travel at a maximum speed of 45 kph (28 mph), but it will drive at an average speed of 25 kph (16 mph).
“By giving Western Australians the chance to see the technology, to eventually use and experience it, we are learning more about the technology and working towards WA being ready for driverless vehicles,” says Terry Agnew, CEO of RAC. “Increasing levels of automation in vehicles are an inevitable part of the future, and the notion of them being on our roads is not a question of if, but when.”
Agnew added that that the test run is one of a kind in Australia and the trial will establish when the technology can be widely adopted in public spaces in the near term.
Nalder says that the Department of Transport is working closely with the RAC for ensuring compliance with vehicle and road safety standards.
“It is not a matter of if this technology will come to WA, but when it will, and that time is fast approaching,” says Nalder.
The increasing level of air pollution adds to global warming, that is why government agencies as well as environmentalists are working hard to find ways to reduce emission of harmful gases. The trial of the fully-electric bus in Perth highlights Western Australia’s contribution to this cause.
The self-driving bus test in Perth may encourage other states in Australia to develop and try the latest technology, which will help the country as a whole to limit emissions.