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Melbourne's La Trobe University to launch year-long trial for autonomous vehicle

09 Jun 17

A research consortium will conduct a trial of autonomous vehicles in Victoria to explore the use of driverless shuttles in the context of a university’s student mobility requirements.

This is the first time such a project has been launched as a proof of concept to address first and last mile connectivity requirements.

The project, which has been partly funded through a $375,000 Victorian Government Smarter Journeys Programme grant, will start in August 2017 and last for one year.

The project aims to explore, through a model deployment in real operating conditions, the use of autonomous vehicles to create a re-usable commercial framework to support the development of the requisite regulation and/or legislation.

HMI Technologies is supplying a French-built Navya 15-person shuttle for the duration of this trial.

This vehicle is fully autonomous (level 4), has no steering wheel and is electrically powered.

HMI Technologies Australia CEO Dean Zabrieszach, comments: “autonomous vehicles are coming, whether we are ready or not, so we are taking this initiative to ensure we understand the implications for the community and governments.”

“Many people believe we are years away from seeing these vehicles on our roads, but we disagree.

“Increasing levels of automated technology are being delivered, now so it’s important we understand what is required for autonomous vehicles to operate safely here.”

RACV public policy general manager Brian Negus says, “It is important that we assess the benefits and risks of this new technology and that we share this knowledge with transport authorities and the community so that regulations can be considered for the State from firsthand experience.

“Having the vehicle available to us will allow partners to evaluate the community’s reaction to this technology and to assess the ways in which autonomous vehicles broaden our transport options”.

La Trobe University’s Melbourne Campus will be used to test the vehicle, first with a limited proof of concept test (away from other traffic) and then in a real operating environment on the campus.

The vehicle will be using GPS coordinates and state-of-the-art sensor technology to detect people or obstacles in its path.

“The University is already on its way towards creating smart campuses that make it easier for students to use technology and enhance their education experience,” says La Trobe University research deputy vice-chancellor Professor Keith Nugent.

“Our Centre for Technology Infusion will be coordinating the shuttle trials and have long been involved in developing technology that links businesses, enhances mobility and shapes smart cities of the future.”

Keolis Downer Head of Growth, Innovation and Partnerships, Jonathan Myers says: “As Australia’s largest private multimodal transport operator we are excited to contribute to developing smarter mobility solutions that will benefit communities.

“Autonomous vehicles are becoming an important part of the multimodal journey, and can help improve the passenger experience by providing an efficient solution for door-to-door journeys.”

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