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Newcastle launches autonomous shuttle trial

The driverless mobility service, operated by Keolis Downer, is being funded in the Australian city through a $5m grant from the Federal Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Programme.

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The driverless shuttle provides a new mobility option for Newcastle (Image: Keolis Downer)
The driverless shuttle provides a new mobility option for Newcastle (Image: Keolis Downer)

The City of Newcastle in Australia has launched a driverless shuttle trial, which is being funded through a $5m grant from the Federal Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Programme.

 

Made by Navya, the autonomous shuttle is operated by Keolis Dower, the Australian subsidiary of multi-modal transport operator Keolis.

 

Connecting to public transport

 

The shuttle will operate along the city’s Wharf Road between Watt Street and Nobby’s Beach roundabouts on weekdays between between 10am and 2pm, taking people to points of interest and connecting them to the public transport network.

 

“It is very exciting to see the shuttle operating on road alongside other traffic and we are delighted to partner with the City of Newcastle to gather more insights on this technology. We encourage everyone to take a ride and share their feedback,” said Keolis Downer CEO, David Franks.

 

He added: “When the shuttle was out in November, last year, during the Newcastle 500, we received over 100 responses across the weekend. Over 90 per cent of participants opinion of driverless shuttle improved after enjoying a ride.”

 

The driverless shuttle has undergone rigorous safety planning and testing to operate on public roads and a chaperone will be on board to monitor the environment, the vehicle performance and provide information to passengers.

 

The shuttle will operate along Wharf Road at around 20km per hour.

“We are keen to accelerate the deployment of this technology in Australia, and better understand the role autonomous shuttles can play in people’s door-to-door journeys”

Franks continued: “Through Keolis, we have been operating driverless shuttles since 2016 in Lyon, France. The shuttle is now an integral part of the multimodal network. We are keen to accelerate the deployment of this technology in Australia, and better understand the role autonomous shuttles can play in people’s door-to-door journeys.”

 

The company has conducted several autonomous electric shuttles trials in Australia, including at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Flinders University in Adelaide and Sydney Olympic Park.

 

Measures will be in place throughout the trial to limit the spread of coronavirus and ensure the safety of customers, including additional cleaning across the day, automatic doors and a maximum of three customers onboard the 11-seater vehicle.

 

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