Curtin University is the first university in Australia to trial a commercial driverless bus, and will use the vehicle as an opportunity to carry out further research in navigation satellite systems, road safety and mobility issues for people with a disability.
The autonomous and 100 per cent electric bus, built by French-based company Navya, seats 11 passengers and can travel up to 45km per hour on a pre-determined route, using computer programming and remote sensors, stereo cameras and GPS systems.
The vehicle is programmed to follow a route with exact rules as to when it can start, stop and negotiate temporary obstacles.
Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said the autonomous bus trial will provide Curtin with a significant range of research opportunities and benefits while collaborating with major industry partners to enable further technology development.
“A wide range of Curtin research groups are looking to the future implementation of robotic and autonomous vehicles in areas such as health, traffic, communications, infrastructure and navigation technologies, including the public confidence in these quickly emerging technologies,” Professor Terry said.
“Autonomous vehicles will transform not only the way we commute, but how we engage with our community and environment. Potential impacts of driverless technology include safer and more sustainable transport, more mobility options for people who are unable to drive and a reduction in traffic congestion and noise pollution.”
The autonomous bus will be in operation at Curtin’s Bentley Campus from late March and will further strengthen the University’s commitment to embracing and developing new technologies and innovation.
Once the trial is underway, researchers will examine the attitudes of the Curtin and wider community towards autonomous technologies, and people will have the opportunity to participate in this research through surveys, feedback and user-experience.
Partners in the project include Innovation Central, a collaboration between Curtin University, Cisco and Woodside Energy Ltd. Cisco will provide additional technologies for the trial. Optus will also be supporting the trial through provision of dedicated communication technologies.
Further information on the autonomous bus can be found here.