DRIVER-FREE: The RAC Intellibus is an electric, driverless bus being tested in Perth, WA.
DRIVER-FREE: The RAC Intellibus is an electric, driverless bus being tested in Perth, WA. CLAIRE PELLICCIA

Driverless bus takes real passengers around Perth

WESTERN Australia has become the first state to take autonomous transport solutions to the streets, with the self-driving RAC Intellibus.

The fully driverless and electric shuttle bus commenced the on-road stage of its testing on 31 August and began carrying passengers shortly after.

RAC says the bus interacts with traffic, road conditions and pedestrians using GPS, cameras and a complex sensor system, of course with the option for a driver to take over in case of malfunctions.

The initial passenger journeys were travelled along South Perth Esplanade between the Old Mill, near the Narrows Bridge, and Sir James Mitchell Park.

The innovative manufacturer has been working with the WA State Government, vehicle manufacturer NAVYA and a number of technicians to ensure the shuttle is safe to hit the streets of Perth.

RAC Group chief executive officer Terry Agnew says that Intellibus trial is the first of its kind in Australia and that Western Australia is leading the driverless charge.

"This trial is an Australian-first, and will be a real trial incorporating members of the public travelling on public roads," Mr Agnew said.

"We anticipate this first step in exploring driverless technology will start a conversation on further trials, research and collaboration, which will increase WA's understanding of how driverless vehicles can integrate into our transport system.

"The trial will help WA develop a roadmap of changes that will need to occur for driverless vehicles to safely transition on to our roads and become an integrated part of our transport system.

"The RAC Intellibus, which can transport up to 11 passengers and will operate at an average speed of 25km per hour, will make RAC members and the broader WA community some of the first people in the world to experience a driverless vehicle in action."

City of South Perth Mayor Sue Doherty welcomes the trial and insists the foreshore was an ideal location for it.

"The City of South Perth is pleased to offer support to this joint initiative of the RAC and the State Government," Mayor Doherty said.

"In the future, this innovative form of public transport has the potential to help alleviate traffic congestion by reducing the number of vehicles on the road, and at the same time having a positive impact on the environment."

In a video from RAC, futurist Chris Riddel outlines the future implications of driverless technology and the impact it will have on everyday lives.

"A bus weaving through obstacles may not seem like a big deal, but this is going to dramatically change the way we think and feel about cars," Mr Riddel said.

"They're going to be our personal mobile workspace, they're going to be our personal assistant, they're going to help us make decisions, and this is going to challenge what we think driving to be.

"And as centralised traffic controls lead to smoother flows, this is where things change again.

"This is exciting, it's efficient, and it's fuelled by digital and humans coming together.

"If we get this right, it will contribute not just to a better tomorrow, but for me, it's going to be a better, a safer Western Australia."

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