Autonomous in Newcastle

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According to the Newcastle Herald, the City of Newcastle has awarded a contract to run a 12-person driverless bus along the harbour and beaches to Keolis Downer. The service is expected to start by the middle of the year.

“Our vision is to create a smart, liveable and sustainable global city that shows how such technology has the potential to one day change the way transport networks and cities are organised in order to improve services for both locals and visitors,” said Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

“This future is brought forward one step at a time through the participation of the city, industry and transport operators in collaborative trials. This will be the first time we’ve seen a vehicle connect with an integrated public transport network on public roads anywhere in Australia.”

The official route and operational details are yet to be determined, but a safety management plan will be developed to identify and manage risks associated with the driverless shuttle before and during its operation.

A trained human operator, to be known as a chaperone, is required by law to be on the vehicle at all times and will carry a remote device similar to a video game controller to take charge of the vehicle in the event of an emergency.