When you think about driverless vehicles, we immediately jump to cars, but in Perth, there’s a new bus that can drive itself. It does however slow, expected to average just 25km/h. A trial route will see up to 11 passengers be transported to their destination and last around 25 minutes down the South Perth Esplanade.
The RAC Intellibus offers the obvious advantage of reducing total cost of transport by removing the cost of a bus driver, but if successful and expanded, is also expected to decrease city congestion, ensure on-time transport of customers and reduce accidents.
Dimensions: Length: 4.80 m, Width: 2.05 m, Height: 2.60 m.
Weight: Thanks largely to the batteries, the bus weighs 1800-1900 kg.
Speed: Max speed is 45 km/hr.
Passenger capacity: There are 11 seats (all usable thanks to the lack of a driver), and has provision for bikes and wheelchairs.
Battery: You’ll get between 5 to 8 hours on a single charge with this guy, but RAC have installed rechargers, so this shouldn’t be an issue given a standardised route means the bus will always return to the same location.
Remote monitoring: It may not have a driver, but the bus can be monitored via a remote operating centre, inside the bus, there’s also an Emergency button.
The Swiss have kindly provided a 360 video of the bus in action, something I’d suggest RAC create for local context.
This technology doesn’t come cheap, with the electric-powered bus costing $250,000, something that would typically cover the cost of a large bus. We’re all pretty comfortable with an early adopters tax and its trials like this that’ll help bring the cost down.
We’re going to go ahead and assume it’s got all the normal safeguards we expect in terms of pedestrian, cyclist and animal detection to keep things safe. From the videos we can clearly see the front and rear of the bus both feature lidar sensors that build a computer model of the environment around it. This enables the vehicle to detect (hundreds of times per second) any objects that it may need to slow or stop for.
Over on the east-coast of Australia, we’re pretty jealous WA beat us to the punch here with driverless vehicles. Here’s hoping the trial is a success and we see lots more of this offering.