The RACQ Smart Shuttle has hit the road at Main Beach on the Gold Coast to begin mapping and testing ahead of the city’s first driverless bus trial next year.
RACQ Head of Public Policy Susan Furze said the community would start to see the autonomous bus slowly travelling around a set route along Tedder and Hughes Avenues, John Kemp and Breaker Streets and Rankin and Main Beach Parades from 13 – 16 December as part of the implementation phase of the trial.
“Engineers will be programming the vehicle to map the 2.4km fixed route using sophisticated sensors. Once the programming is complete it will self-drive around at a maximum speed of 18km/h, so we’re kindly asking locals and visitors around Main Beach to please be patient during this time,” Ms Furze said.
“Once this initial on-road mapping and testing phase is completed in January 2022, the shuttle will be available for people to jump aboard and experience this future-mode of travel.
“The Gold Coast Smart Shuttle Trial will run until December 2022, operating seven days a week, stopping at seven designated Smart Shuttle stops to pick up passengers who can travel free of charge.
“After two successful trials on Karragarra Island and Raby Bay, we’re eager to better understand how this state-of-the-art technology can be safely integrated into a more complex live-traffic environment and its potential to fulfil future transport needs.”
Ms Furze encouraged road users in the Main Beach area to take extra care.
“If you come across the RACQ Smart Shuttle normal road rules apply, but please be patient as the vehicle will be travelling at low speed and stopping regularly,” she said.
“It’s okay to overtake, however, due to the onboard sensors we ask drivers to leave about three car lengths in front of the shuttle before re-entering the same lane.
“Similarly, we ask that pedestrians and cyclists leave at least 1.5 metres between themselves and the driverless bus.
“We’re really excited to learn as much as we can from this trial and hope to see thousands of locals and visitors hop onboard the RACQ Smart Shuttle next year.”