Driver for change

AUS­TRALIA-FIRST TRIAL IN TOWN

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Aaron Cor­lett

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.

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