Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen has officially launched the first-ever fully-autonomous (Level 4) driverless vehicle to mix with traffic, which starts a three-month trial on Newcastle’s roads today. The project is a joint initiative of City of Newcastle and Keolis Downer.
Novocastrians and visitors to the city can now ride the free shuttle service along Wharf Road between the Watt Street and Nobbys Beach roundabouts on weekdays between 10am and 2pm.
Running at a speed of 20km/hr, the vehicle uses an array of sophisticated technology, including 360-degree cameras and input sensors, to avoid cars and objects.
The operation is overseen by an onboard chaperone – a local bus driver who is greeting passengers and answering questions after undergoing training to control the vehicle via a control pad should any issues arise.
The trial is fully funded by a grant thanks to the Commonwealth’s Smarter City and Suburbs program.