NT driverless bus trial


Darwin will host Australia’s first trial site for a driverless passenger vehicle, the Northern Territory Government announced

NT driverless bus trial
Darwin will host a $150,000 driverless bus trial using the EasyMile EZ10 driverless vehicle

 

This will be the first time an autonomous vehicle will be used as a transport solution in Australia.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner says the six-month trial deployment of Australia’s first EasyMile EZ10 ‘driverless’ vehicle at the Darwin Waterfront commencing early this year.

It will see the driverless vehicle transport visitors from the Waterfront precinct to Stokes Hill Wharf on a repeat loop.

"Autonomous transport technology is no longer science fiction – it’s here and we are leading the way," he says.

"With this project, the NT Government and Darwin join an exclusive list of jurisdictions worldwide actively developing autonomous transport including Singapore, Dubai/UAE, France, Netherlands, California and Japan.

"This project is something I have been interested in for a while now as we need to look towards these technologies as an alternative and niche way of efficiently and safely moving people around precincts and the CBD – and ultimately, the potential of linking the harbours between Stokes Hill and Cullen Bay.

"This trial will see the vehicle transport people between Stokes Hill Wharf and the Darwin Waterfront, and from there we can look towards future options in the Top End."

The fully autonomous vehicle provides zero emissions when operating, is fully air-conditioned and capable of carrying up to 12 passengers at one time.  The vehicle can provide up to 12 hours of operation per charge.

The first stage of the trial will cost the NT Government approximately $150,000.

"The EZ10 vehicle attracted international and domestic notoriety during the Intelligent Transport System World Congress and there is now a dozen International and Australian clients actively seeking vehicles from EasyMile including universities, airports, precincts and shopping centres," Gunner says.

A robotics and software company based in Europe, Robosoft has teamed up with Ligier Group, a vehicle manufacturing company to design and build the self-driving, fully electric bus, collaborating under the name Easymile to produce the EZ10 self-driving and fully electric bus.

EZ10 features laser detection systems that guide the vehicle and help it to avoid obstacles. The smart bus also includes a GPS system which allows for real-time location tracking and positioning. EZ10 knows where it is and where it is going at all times, drives itself, and navigates itself. Although it’s range is short, usually over predetermined routes that are about a mile or less, this electric vehicle can certainly go the distance multiple times a day, and can even be ordered for on demand service via a smartphone.

Since EZ10 is fully electric, it can travel for up to 14 hours on a single charge. This means that this shuttle bus can make many trips on a single charge

Easymile’s smart bus is also handicap accessible, passengers simply press a button and EZ10’s doors open to extend a ramp. This is an extremely useful feature for parents with strollers or people with disabilities who use a wheelchair. This accessibility means that anyone can use EZ10.

Installing EZ10 is not terribly difficult either, since it doesn’t require construction of any kind of infrastructure besides a path for it to travel on.

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