Coffs Harbour automated shuttle bus trial to go full monty

An autonomous electric shuttle bus being trialled on the NSW North Coast is about to go fully driverless, the first time this has occurred in Australia.

More than 10,000 people have used the “Busbot” in phases 1 and 2 of the trial that began in December 2018.

The NSW government is running the trial in partnership with Coffs Harbour City Council, operator Busways, driverless technology provider EasyMile, and ride-sharing startup Via.

The state government is also running a connected and automated vehicle trial in Armidale, in the state’s Northern Tablelands, and a smart shuttle trial at Sydney Olympic Park.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the next phase of the Coffs Harbour trial will dispense with the onboard supervision that marked phases 1 and 2, with operations covering the CBD and the Harbour Botanic Gardens.

He said advances in artificial intelligence (AI) will see a shift to public transport systems that are driven by the customer rather than by governments using the “turn up and go” model.

In May 2017, Australian transport ministers agreed to new guidelines for trials of automated vehicles in Australia, and the NSW Government published its Connected and Automated Vehicles Plan not long afterwards.