Automated vehicle 'BusBot' launches in Coffs Harbour

Busbot Coffs Harbour Breakwall

The future of passenger transport has arrived for Coffs Harbour with the launch of an automated vehicle trial.

The trial, the first of its kind in a regional Australian city, was announced in July 2018 by Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey.

Minister Pavey launched the vehicle on the Coffs Harbour Northern Breakwall on December 11.

“We wanted regional NSW to experience this technology first hand and I’m excited to see this trial get underway. This is about doing our homework today so we can make our vehicles safer, improve mobility and help save lives on our roads,” Minister Pavey said.

The vehicle, an EasyMile EZ10 driverless shuttle known as BusBot, will be trialled in the region for at least the next 12 months through three unique phases, each testing varying levels of complexity.

BusBot has begun servicing passengers on the Northern Breakwall for Phase 1 of the trial.It will operate for 8 weeks over the summer.

“We invite the community to come and experience the vehicle, have a ride on it and tell us what they think,” Managing Director of Busways, Byron Rowe, said.

“The more participation we achieve throughout the whole trial, the more relevant the lessons learnt will be for Coffs Harbour and for regional towns in general.”

The Northern Breakwall location offers a highly controlled testing environment and is ideal to showcase the vehicle in a highly visible and immersive way for local residents, and tourists.

The autonomous shuttle will travel from the International Marina to Muttonbird Island every 10 minutes between 8am and 12pm 6 days a week – except on public holidays.

The goal is for the public to experience a driverless vehicle firsthand tell us how this technology could serve transport needs in Coffs Harbour. Their feedback will help inform lessons on filling transport service gaps, impact on congestion and parking, and town revitalisation.

Based on EasyMile robust autonomous technology, the EZ10 is fully electric and can carry up to 15 people. The driverless shuttle follows a predefined route and is equipped with a full range of sensors to detect and avoid potential obstacles.

Benefiting from the latest developments in robotics and Artificial Intelligence, the EZ10 is today the most deployed autonomous shuttle in the world with over 210 sites over 24 countries.

“This automated vehicle trial is an opportunity to explore how driverless technology can improve and increase access to the transport network for more people in the community,” Mr Rowe said.

“It’s a very exciting time for us and for Coffs Harbour - a city demonstrating leadership in promoting transport innovation in regional centres.”

EasyMile Managing Director for Australia & NZ, Greg Giraud, said the trials are about understanding how autonomous vehicles will change the way people move from a point to another.

“Coffs Harbour is an ideal test bed for our very innovative technology. The Northern Breakwall service is the first of three exciting phases and the aim of the overall project is to demonstrate how autonomous vehicle can help address public transport challenges in regional areas,” He said.

“I commend Transport for NSW, Busways and the City of Coffs Harbour for their leadership in this space and for the collaborative way in which this project has been led and managed.”

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