Driverless bus trial to roll forward at Raby Bay

28 Oct 2020

Following the success of the Redlands Coast Smart Mobility Trial on Karragarra Island, Redland City Council has again partnered with RACQ for a second phase of the trial, to be held at Raby Bay, Cleveland.

The trial’s first phase saw the RACQ Smart Shuttle in use on the island from November 2019 to May 2020 in Queensland’s first long-term, on-road trial of the autonomous vehicle technology.

The small, driverless bus has a maximum speed of 20km/h, sophisticated sensors for navigation, and detection lasers to identify obstacles within 40 metres before stopping safely or slowing as needed.

Mayor Karen Williams said Karragarra Island had been the perfect site for the Queensland-first test of how an autonomous vehicle would perform in a live traffic environment.

“As a city of islands with rural and urban communities, we know Redlands Coast faces a number of transport challenges; and by partnering with RACQ in these trials, Council has demonstrated its commitment to finding innovative ways to help our residents overcome these challenges,” she said.

“Over the course of the island trial, more than 850 passengers experienced the potential of autonomous vehicle technology, with the bus travelling more than 1400 kilometres.

“At all times, it was staffed by a human operator who could take control if necessary.

“Now the technology will soon be trialled in the Raby Bay area of Cleveland and we are delighted to again be partnering with RACQ for the trial’s second phase, with the commencement date to be advised but we anticipate it starting in late November.”

Cr Williams said the trial would connect Raby Bay Harbour with Raby Bay Foreshore Park – two popular destinations not currently serviced by public transport.

“The harbour is just a short walk from existing bus and train services, and this trial area will test the driverless technology in a more complex traffic environment while allowing us to see and assess how it works in an integrated transport network,” she said.

“These ground-breaking trials on Redlands Coast will also be used to investigate other applications for the autonomous vehicle and to lobby for greater adoption of innovative transport across the State.”

Division 2 Councillor Peter Mitchell said he was pleased to know the trial would be operating in Cleveland.

“This trial will add to the invaluable data Council has already collected from the trial on Karragarra Island,” he said.

“This is as much about research as it is about transport, with it to provide information on practical uses of the technology, not only on Redlands Coast but also across Queensland and even nationwide.”

RACQ Head of Public Policy Rebecca Michael said the shuttle was an opportunity for Raby Bay locals to test the future of public transport.

“Autonomous vehicles will change the way we move in the future and we’re very excited that the Redlands Coast community gets to be front and centre of this ground-breaking trial and gets to test out the innovative technology now,” Dr Michael said.

“Once the trial begins, members of the community will be able to ride the shuttle for free and we’ll gather feedback on their experience and thoughts on the technology, so we can ensure current and future trials positively impact Queenslander lives.”

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