Driverless vehicles 'talk' to Sydney traffic

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The driverless shuttle bus service at Sydney Olympic Park is making history again, becoming the first vehicle in the country to interact autonomously with live traffic conditions.

Minister for Roads Andrew Constance launched the new service at the International Driverless Vehicle Summit in Sydney today.

“Sydney really is among the world leaders when it comes to autonomous vehicles,” Mr Constance said.

“We now have two smart shuttles ‘talking’ to the conditions and infrastructure around them. Customers can get on board and test ride these buses over the next six months to help us gain insights into how autonomous vehicles can improve services and how this technology will shape our future transport.”

In an Australian first, the vehicles will communicate autonomously with live traffic signals to negotiate an intersection, connecting passengers to Olympic Park Station, restaurants and carparks. Customers just turn up and go, with a bus arriving every 10-15 minutes on weekdays.

“This new stage is important to help us understand how autonomous vehicles can connect to our infrastructure, like traffic lights and digital bus stops,” Mr Constance said. 

“The Smart Shuttles are just one example of our state’s automated vehicle program which is the country’s biggest.  I’m encouraging everyone to experience autonomous vehicles on show here at the International Driverless Vehicle Summit.”

“We are dedicated to expanding trials to get the technology right, which is why we invested $10 million in additional testing over four years for a less congested, safer and more efficient future on our roads,” Mr Constance said.

NRMA CEO Rohan Lund said the success of the Smart Shuttle trial in Sydney Olympic Park was great example of how emerging technologies can be adopted by communities.

“The Smart Shuttle has become an iconic piece of infrastructure in Sydney Olympic Park in just two years. People certainly keep an eye out for the driverless shuttle and many still stop to take photos,” Mr Lund said.

“But it’s so much more than just a photo opportunity. The success of the Smart Shuttle heralds a new era for transport in Australia. Some 94 per cent of crashes are caused by human error so autonomous vehicles have the potential to save thousands of lives and dramatically reduce congestion on our roads.”

A wide range of driverless vehicle technology from Australia and abroad will be on display in the Sydney Olympic Park forecourt and surrounding streets. Demonstrations are open to the public from October 28-29.

Vision of NSW driverless vehicles in action can be downloaded here.