NSW’ first driverless shuttle bus operating around Sydney’s Olympic Park will open to the public next month after safely transporting its first group of passengers.
It represents the next stage of the government’s two-year trial of the technology that started in August last year.
Until now the shuttle has been limited to safety tests at Newington Armory and passenger-less testing on public roads around Olympic Park.
The public is expected to be able to book free rides along a closed section of Olympic Boulevard during the school holidays through the Smart Innovation Centre and trial partner websites over the coming weeks.
This is slightly later than first expected; Transport for NSW had wanted to begin offering the service to the public in the first quarter of this year.
The shuttle from French company Navya is designed to carry up to 12 passengers at a time and can travel up to 40 kilometres an hour. It features light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensors to perceive its surroundings
Transport minister Andrew Constance said he was “very excited” to see the first passengers begin to use the vehicles.
“The ultimate goal of this landmark trial is to find the best way to harness the next generation of driverless technology and how to make it work for the people of NSW,” he said.
“We want to bring customers along on the journey, giving them the opportunity to experience this technology and respond to the vehicle so we can implement the feedback as we work towards a connected and automated future."
A further stage of the trial will look to transport office workers and residents around the Olympic Park precinct from early next year.
“We want to use the trial to help develop the systems that will enable automated vehicles to be connected to our infrastructure, like traffic lights and to our customers through their devices and applications,” Constance said.
The government is also planning to bring automated vehicle trials to regional centres Coffs Harbour and Armidale over the next 12 months.
However, roads minister Melinda Pavey noted that the widespread use of driverless vehicles still remains some way off.
“There is still some way to go before self-driving vehicles become common place on Australian roads, but as a Government we are ready to take the next step,” she said.