Chamber champions autonomous transport

Autonomous transport shuttle buses will be trialled in Coffs Harbour and Armidale. Picture: contributed

WHILST we live and play in what most of us believe is one of the best regional cities in Australia, it is reassuring to see our State Government has the appetite to trial new technologies in regional communities such as Coffs Harbour.

“The announcement on Monday by Minister for Roads Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey that Coffs Harbour will be one of two regional areas in New South Wales where fully automated vehicles will be trialled is welcome news to the Chamber,” Chamber president Martin Wells said.

The pace in which technology is changing coupled with advancements brought about by the use of artificial intelligence (AI), it is not a matter of if intelligent transports systems and autonomous vehicle technology will come into our lives, but when and on what scale – that time is here now and very fast approaching on a larger scale.

“Ken Phillips, one of our board members had seen this happening in other states of Australia and overseas and in early 2017 took the initiative to contact Minister Pavey to request if there was any possibility for Coffs Harbour to acquire a driverless bus,” Mr Wells said.

Various types of these vehicles are being tested and trialled in other countries and have autonomous features such as radar cruise control and lane detection warning systems.

It’s important to be trialling the vehicles to understand and learn what the capabilities and limitations of the vehicles are.

All of the information learned will no doubt be used to ensure the State has the best integrated and intelligent transport solution while also utilising eco-friendly modes of transport.

The trials of the Easymile EZ 10 vehicle proposed for Coffs Harbour will be for a 12 month period and be done in three phases in different locations and applications.

“Coffs Harbour lends itself to this sort of innovation particularly with it being one of the first regional centres to have the roll out of the NBN ,” Mr Phillips said.

With tourism being a big part of our economy, the introduction (trial) of new intelligent transport solutions within our community adds to the visitor experience and will help promote Coffs Harbour as an early adopter of innovation”.

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