The first self-driving bus in Australia has taken to the streets of Perth, the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia, reports Mashable. The electric shuttle bus was purchased by the Royal Automotive Club of Western Australia (RAC WA) for $250,000.
The 11-seat bus, known as the RAC Intellibus, will shuttle passengers along a 1.6-mile route on the South Perth Esplanade, which is neither a high-speed road nor a complicated route. The self-driving bus will travel at an average speed of 16 MPH – it tops out at 28 MPH.
The WAC received a special permit from the state government to conduct this trial. If all goes well, the trial will be extended in the future. This is actually the third phase of the trial. The first phase tested the self-driving bus at the RACWA driving center, while the second phase tested the vehicle on this route without passengers.
The RAC Intellibus is equipped with six LIDAR sensors and four stereovision cameras to detect traffic signals and avoid obstacles. The self-driving bus also has GPS and autonomous braking to stop itself if any danger arises. The self-driving bus calculates its position not only using GPS, but also based on its starting point and how far it has traveled.
Each passenger seat also has seatbelts. And while there’s no driver’s seat, a “chaperone” will be on the self-driving bus at all times to hit the emergency stop button if needed. The RAC WA says the bus is a level five automated vehicle, the highest level under the SAE classification system, because it has no steering wheel, no operator and no pedals.
Anyone seven years or older can catch the bus at either end of its route, but it can’t be hailed and doesn’t make scheduled stops midway. Passengers in the area can register for the self-driving bus here.
This Australian trial comes days after nuTonomy launched a self-driving taxi service in Singapore, offering free rides to the public on a limited basis. nuTonomy claims this is the world’s first self-driving taxi service that offers rides to people, beating out Uber, Delphi, GM and Lyft.
nuTonomy is using six Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi iMieV self-driving cars, which people can summon from their phone, to shuttle passengers around the city’s 2.5-square-mile “one-north” business and residential district. nuTonomy said it plans to add more self-driving taxis to the fleet in the next two years. Check out nuTonomy’s self-driving taxi service in action below.