Self-driving electric vehicle in front of city
Advocating change

Leading the way in new technology

We’re testing out Tasmania’s first Driverless Electric Bus (DEB), with the Tasmanian Government and City of Hobart, to help us better understand this emerging technology and the opportunities for the future of mobility in Tasmania.

About the demonstration

We’ve engaged YDrive, who are experts in this area, to deliver the demonstration with the NAVYA Autonom Shuttle.

The demonstration will run from 6-13 December 2019, but it has been a much longer process than that for us. We’ve spent months looking at possible locations and possible interactions with traffic and the community. This is all part of working out if, how and when driverless technology could be used in Tasmania.

We want to show that, with proper planning and investment, fully automated buses – particularly those running on fixed routes and dedicated lanes – can operate in a real-world environment. They are designed for ‘first and last mile’ transport. That is, connecting other transport modes together, or to service central shopping or business districts.

How it works

DEB has cameras to detect lane markings, signs and traffic lights; LIDAR technology that uses a laser light to measure distances to certain points, creating a 3D rendering of vehicles, pedestrians, curbs and buildings; GPS and the internet for accurate positioning and navigation; and a computer to process the information and drive the vehicle.

A trained operator will be on the bus at all times during the demonstration. They will activate the doors, and start DEB on the pre-planned route via a touchscreen located within the cabin.

They’re also there to answer questions about the technology, make sure everything runs smoothly, and can take over control of the vehicle if needed for safety reasons.

How we got here

We have chosen Lower Sandy Bay for the demonstration as there are lots of trees and buildings in the area for DEB to map and navigate from. It’s also a lower-traffic area, as we aim to cause as little impact as possible on people’s daily lives.

We spent four days 3D mapping this route before the demonstration, and mapping will continue daily as circumstances and the environment are bound to change – especially with events like garbage night!

While the bus is driverless, a trained operator will be on the bus at all times. The operator is needed to activate doors and action the vehicle to start the pre-planned route.

What we’ll do next

This is an exciting opportunity for Tasmania to experience a driverless electric bus for the first time.

The coming years will see a substantial change with the introduction of driverless vehicle technology. It is important we are prepared as early as possible to ensure a smooth transition towards driverless transport. 

By exploring how these technologies could be used in the state, we get valuable insights into what is involved in introducing them. And we raise community awareness and understanding of the exciting opportunities this quiet and emission-free technology offers.

We’re keen to get your feedback on what you thought of the ride and the technology. We will be surveying people to gain their insights. If you’d like to provide us with feedback, please email [email protected].

We will be compiling your feedback, along with our own findings, to form a view on how we should move forward, and advocate for this on behalf of all Tasmanians.

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