Driving the future

A series of driverless vehicles trials are giving Queenslanders a glimpse of the future of public transport.

A series of driverless vehicle trials is giving hundreds of Queenslanders a first-hand glimpse of the future of public transport.

The trials are being conducted by the Council of Mayors (SEQ), in partnership with autonomous vehicle supplier EasyMile, transport operator TransDev and RACQ.

Centre stage is an electric shuttle, the EZ10, which can carry 12 people at speeds of up to 40km/h. Laser radars, top and bottom of the vehicle, and GPS guide the EZ10 safely. Obstacles can be detected up to 50m away and in an arc of 270 degrees.

EasyMile Head APAC Simon Pearce said the demonstration trials highlighted the impressive capabilities and safety features of the EZ10, and the benefits self-driving technology could offer in connecting residents to traditional public transport and improving mobility for those who are unable to drive.

“The EZ10 fully-autonomous shuttle … has been designed to cover short, predefined routes through embedded and localisation technologies,” he said.

“Using the latest sensory technology, the vehicle can safely respond to environmental changes like moving pedestrians, cyclists and other cars.”

Mr Pearce said the EZ10 driverless shuttle had already been deployed in 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific, MiddleEast, North America and Europe.

The Sunshine Coast became the first to trial the EZ10 with a successful demonstration of the vehicle in Mooloolaba late last year. This was followed by similar trials already this year in Cairns, Springfield and Redlands.

The Mooloolaba trial attracted 500 members of the public, 93 percent of whom said they would consider using this type of transport system if it was available, instead of driving their own vehicle.

Upwards of 300 people participated in the Cairns trial, with more than 90 percent saying that the Cairns Regional Council should consider using electric self-driving technology as part of its future transport system.

Orion Lagoon, Springfield, was the location for the EZ10’s week-long public demonstration along John Nugent Way hosted by the Ipswich City Council. A week later, the focus shifted to Cleveland for a similar demonstration, this time hosted by the Redland City Council, with the EZ10 making return trips within a barricaded laneway from Doig Street, along Middle Street to Library Square.

Public feedback from the Springfield and Redlands trials was still to be collated at the time of writing, but both attracted a large and enthusiastic attendance.

So where to once the trials are completed?

“EasyMile will work with Queensland and state authorities to identify a suitable location within South-East Queensland to formulate a passenger service which delivers value to the Queensland community,” Mr Pearce said.

“We are excited to work with Department of Transport and Main Roads and RACQ in identifying the initial site for a suitable commercial operation.”

For more information about the future of motoring listen to our latest RACQ Living Podcast.

Images by Jordan Sellers.