Driverless shuttle trials for Coffs Harbour and Armidale
Last December, Transport for NSW announced that it was looking to trial emerging connected and automated vehicles in regional NSW. This week it made good on the announcement, with upcoming trials of driverless shuttles in Coffs Harbour and Armidale.
“We want to test this technology outside of the Greater Sydney area so our regional communities can be part of our planning for connected and automated vehicles,” said Minister for Roads Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey.
This expansion into regional NSW follows earlier trials of a driverless shuttle in Sydney’s Olympic Park. The vehicle for the Coffs Harbour trial is an Easy Mile EZ10, carrying up to 14 passengers. Other partners in this trial include Coffs Harbour City Council, Busways, and Via.
“We’ll be implementing what we’ve already learnt from Olympic Park but this trial will be tailored to Coffs Harbour helping deliver improved transport solutions for regional NSW as we prepare our communities for the future,” said Andrew Constance, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure.
When? And where in Coffs Harbour?
The driverless shuttle trial will commence in Coffs Harbour in late 2018, and will run for 12 months. The trial will involve three phases:
- A shuttle service travelling to Muttonbird Island, operating on the Northern Breakwall connecting Coffs Harbour International Marina and Muttonbird Island
- The shuttle will move to Marion Grove Retirement Village
- Operate on Harbour Drive in Coffs Harbour CBD, helping people travel between precincts and transport links
It might be a driverless shuttle, but for the duration of this trial there will be a supervisor on board at all times.
At the time of writing there is no information on the Armidale trial other than that it is planned.
UPDATE: January 2019
The Coffs Harbour service and bus now has a name – Busbot. It is currently in Phase 1, so operating on the Coffs Harbour Marina, travelling along the Northern Breakwall to Muttonbird Island. There’s no charge to use the service in these test phases, but passengers will be asked for their feedback via completion of a customer survey form. For more information, visit the Busbot website, or the Busbot Twitter account.
There is still no information on the Armidale section of this trial.
UPDATE: 21 November 2019
The Busbot trial was a shared winner of the Automated Vehicle Award at the 2019 ITS Australia Awards. It shared the prize with an iMOVE project, the Cooperative and Highly Automated Driving Safety Study. Congratulations to both!