Australia’s first driverless and electric shuttle bus has begun operating on a road containing other traffic in a trial in Perth on Wednesday.
Local media reported the trial involved the ‘RAC Intellibus’ travelling along the South Perth Esplanade, carrying passengers, interacting with traffic, parked cars, cyclists and pedestrians.
“We anticipate this first step in exploring driverless technology will start a conversation on further trials, research, and collaboration, which will increase Western Australia’s understanding of how driverless vehicles can integrate into our transport system,” RAC group chief executive Terry Agnew said.
Agnew said he was hopeful that driverless vehicles would become an integrated part of the transport system after the trial. The trial route is 25 minutes taking in 11 passengers and will run at an average speed of 25 km per hour.
Driverless trucks are already used by mining companies such as Rio Tinto, which has completely driverless operations at some of its Pilbara mines in WA. While driverless cars are being developed by many companies but are yet to be used among traffic, including cars driven by people.
Western Australia’s Innovation Minister Bill Marmion said the trial shows how innovation can reduce environmental impacts and also deliver to the community.
The shuttle has been tested off the road in a closed environment since it’s arrival in WA in April.
RAC recently surveyed almost 1,000 Western Australians on how they feel about driverless technology, with 46 percent saying they think it would result in less traffic congestion and 53 percent saying it will result in fewer car crashes and reduce the severity of crashes.