Driverless shuttle unveiled in Newcastle, Australia

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The city of Newcastle, Australia has unveiled its new driverless shuttle. 

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes revealed the vehicle for the first time at Keolis Downer’s Hamilton depot. Exhaustive safety testing will soon begin at this location, and once testing is complete, passengers will be able to experience the vehicle along the harbour foreshore.

“This is a major milestone for the city’s smart city journey, and I look forward to working with Transport for NSW and partners Keolis Downer on this unique opportunity to make the future of automated transport in Newcastle a reality as we transform the city into a living lab,” Councillor Nelmes says.

“The City’s vision for a smart, integrated transport network begins in earnest with the arrival of this new driverless vehicle, which we propose connecting with Newcastle’s integrated public transport network.”

To ensure that all safety standards are met, the trial is being developed in accordance with national and state legislation and regulations, Keolis Downer New Mobilities Manager Sue Wiblin notes.

“Over the next month, we will complete a rigorous safety testing program, on road and off road, to prepare the vehicle for customer services,” Wiblin says.

“In-built computers and sensing systems capable of detecting obstacles, anticipating movement and evaluating risk of collision, are what sets this vehicle apart from the risks associated with human-controlled cars. These systems are capable of detecting vehicle movement and are also able determine the travel route, make decisions to slow down, brake and alternate the vehicle’s path if required.”

The vehicle is fully automated, but a chaperone will be onboard during operations. The chaperone will be able to use an override system to stop the vehicle if necessary.

Testing will be conducted before the launch of the service. Once the trial begins, it will not only help evaluate the demand for driverless vehicle operations, but it will also assess the suitability of this technology in mixed traffic and transport scenarios in Newcastle.