Driver for change
AUSTRALIA-FIRST TRIAL IN TOWN
THE State Government and the RAC want to convince the public that driverless vehicles are a good idea.
Australia’s first driverless bus, the Intellibus, was launched in South Perth last week, with an initial plan to have it travelling between Sir James Mitchell Park and The Old Mill.
RAC Group chief executive Terry Agnew said the benefits of the bus included road safety, accessibility and flexibility for the public.
“Over the next 20 to 30 years we will see driven vehicles and driverless vehicles having to coexist,” he said.
“It isn’t so different to 100 years ago when you had motor vehicles coming on to the road and you had horses.
Curtin University sustainability and transport research fellow Jemma Green said she wanted to see mass transit solutions such as heavy and light rail.
“Typically, demand leads innovation. At the moment it’s very expensive but as demand increases, the prices will come down,” she said.
“Personally I wouldn’t want to be on a driverless vehicle but I’m only one person.”
Mr Agnew said the point of the trial was for people to experience the bus and form their own views.
“We’ve recently run a survey with 1000 West Australians and their appetite for trialling this technology is quite strong, which is surprising given it’s very new technology but they already have views about the benefits of road safety and flexibility,” he said.
“There is substantial understanding of the benefits. What this trial allows is for the community to experience the technology themselves and so it moves from being a piece of technology they can read about to something they can ride on and form a view.”
“There were several locations we looked at but the advantage of this one was that we could expand. Initially it’s going to run between Sir James Mitchell Park and The Old Mill and we can expand to the zoo and so on.”
Innovation Minister Bill Marmion said he thought people would want to use it.
“One of the biggest problems the RAC will have is holding back the crowds,” he said.
RAC Group chief executive Terry Agnew and South Perth Mayor Sue Doherty get on the Intellibus for a ride.