Armidale's driverless shuttle marks an Australian-first

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Locals and visitors are invited to experience the future of driverless transportation with stage two of the landmark automated vehicle trial officially open for testing with passengers.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson said today’s opening showcases the major role Armidale continues to play in unlocking the future of regional transportation.

“What we are experiencing today is an Australian-first, the first automated shuttle to operate in mixed traffic within a city centre,” a Transport for NSW spokesperson said.

The automated shuttle, better known as ARDi has made the move from its former home at UNE to Armidale CBD, with phase two of the trial specifically operating a new route bounded by Rusden, Faulkner, Moore and Dangar Streets.

Over the last month ARDi technicians and engineers have been performing a number of technical tasks to create a digital map of the route so the vehicle can identify its location and operate in automated mode.

Residents are encouraged to take the opportunity to experience the vehicle first hand and jump aboard from any of the 4 designated stops at Town Hall, Old Courthouse, The Mall Arcade or New England Hotel.

“We already know this technology has the potential to increase safety, improve productivity and help make people more mobile, but we need to keep trialing in different in environments to get the best local outcomes,” a Transport for NSW spokesperson said.

The vehicle will be moving at slow speeds but it’s still important both drivers and pedestrians look out for ARDi and proceed with care.

Phase two of the ARDi trial is expected to run for a minimum of two months.

Throughout the trial in the CBD, the team will gather important learnings on how automated vehicles operate in a city environment and interact with vehicles and pedestrians. Data and customer feedback from the trial will inform potential extensions of the CBD route.

ARDi will operate Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm, and each Saturday 9am to 12 noon. The trial is open to the public and free to use, just turn up to one of the stops and jump on.

Armidale is one of three regional centres chosen by the NSW Government to host automated vehicle trials. The ARDi trial is being delivered in partnership with Armidale Regional Council, EasyMile, Transdev, WSP, QBE Insurance, Edwards Coaches and the University of New England.