An autonomous shuttle trial has kicked off at LaTrobe University in Bundoora, giving Victorians the chance to ride on a self-driving Navya bus.
The trial will be run on an existing transport route at La Trobe, and continues until July 2018. It's designed to gain a better understanding of how self-driving vehicles interact with other road users and, perhaps more importantly, the general public.
It's a collaboration between VicRoads, La Trobe University, HMI Technologies, the RACV and the Australia Road Research Board (ARRB). This isn't the first time these groups have teamed up on an autonomous trial – earlier this year, the RACV and VicRoads announced a semi-autonomous trial along the Eastlink–Tullamarine–CityLink corridor in partnership with BMW, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla.
"This is an exciting opportunity to look into the future of transport and how autonomous vehicles can be used to meet passenger demand and complement existing transport options," Bryce Prosser, RACV general manager of public policy and corporate affairs, said of the trial.
"The purpose of the trial is to gain a better understanding of the technology – how it works, how it can best be developed and how it can be implemented. We will look at all aspects of safety, operations and integration."
Stuart Ballingall, VicRoads director of transport futures, took things a step further, arguing the trials will help lay the groundwork for wider introduction of self-driving vehicles.
"We hope to learn how this technology can be used while interacting with other road users, which will help to inform the development of a legal and regulatory framework for the safe introduction of automated vehicles across Victoria and Australia," he said.