Driverless buses proposed for regional areas to help with lack of transport


Posted

July 30, 2018 12:26:54

A proposal to launch driverless bus services in regional Australia aims to solve a lack of transport in rural communities.

French company EasyMile is seeking state and federal government funding to trial a number of driverless bus fleets across Australia.

It already operates buses in 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, North America and Europe.

The company’s head of delivery in Australia and New Zealand, Simon Pearce, said Australia’s regional areas were ideal locations for the service.

“It’s an opportunity to open up regional communities where they haven’t had access to commissioned bus services,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of challenges here that we don’t see in Europe and the United States.

“How will the vehicle cope with a kangaroo jumping out in front of it? How will it cope with, for example, a dust storm?” Mr Pearce said.

In South Australia, EasyMile has signed a memorandum of understanding with the State Government to establish headquarters in Adelaide and deploy trial buses transporting passengers to and from hospitals and shopping centres in the suburbs.

EasyMile has applied to trial driverless buses in Renmark, SA.

In New South Wales, the regional towns of Coffs Harbour and Armidale have been approved for two-year trials before a decision is made on making the driverless buses permanent.

For each trial, the community and local council will decide on where to set up bus stops that would give locals easy access to essential services.

“The vehicle itself goes up to 40 kilometres per hour. Within the town we wouldn’t be running it that fast. It’ll be probably be between 20 and 25 [km/hr] depending on the location around schools and the hospital area,” Mr Pearce said.

Fourteen people can board the bus at one time, along with a chaperone which is required by law for safety. EasyMile hopes chaperones will be volunteers from the respective towns.

Mr Pearce said safety features included a 3D laser that scans for objects at ground level up to the top of the vehicle, a roof laser which scans 220 metres ahead of the bus, and a camera at the front of the bus which monitors the road.

He said this would enable the bus to do an emergency stop if an object came into its path.

New technology a hit with the elderly

One of the company’s buses was displayed in the South Australian town of Renmark for locals to judge.

It found interest among residents with mobility difficulties, like the elderly, who surprised themselves with their excitement for the new technology.

Renmark local Trevor Anderson said the town would be prepared to “embrace the future”.

“Many people, elderly people, don’t have the confidence to use a gopher, but they would have the confidence to use this.”

Ninety-one-year-old Shirley Plew recently gave up her drivers licence because of her health condition. She said the service would give her an alternative to taxis and relying on family.

“I do feel safe because somebody must’ve tested it. I mean they wouldn’t put us in there if something was going to happen to us,” Ms Plew said.

Ninety-four-year-old Betty Pitt and her 89-year-old friend Eileen Ingham were also happy with the safety features shown to them.

“I mean they were scared when the washing machines and trains [launched],” said Ms Ingham.

Ms Pitt was also willing to catch a ride on a driverless bus.

“Especially if it was around the town, supermarket, doctor, it would be ideal.”

Topics:

regional,

road-transport,

community-and-society,

renmark-5341,

renmark-south-5341,

sa,

port-augusta-5700,

port-augusta-north-5700,

port-augusta-west-5700,

port-broughton-5522,

port-clinton-5570,

port-elliot-5212,

port-gawler-5501,

port-germein-5495,

port-hughes-5558,

port-kenny-5671,

port-lincoln-5606,

port-macdonnell-5291,

port-neill-5604,

port-noarlunga-5167,

port-pirie-5540,

port-pirie-south-5540,

port-pirie-west-5540,

port-victoria-5573,

port-vincent-5581,

port-wakefield-5550,

port-willunga-5173,

armidale-2350,

coffs-harbour-2450,

port-adelaide-5015



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *