Driverless electric buses will soon be taking to the streets of South Australia, following the announcement of an autonomous vehicle hub for the region.
Based out of state capital Adelaide, the hub will involve Australian company Transit Australia Group (TAG) and electric driverless technology company EasyMile, headquartered in France. EasyMile will be providing its EZ10 autonomous buses for the trial, capable of carrying up to 15 passengers (eight seated, seven standing). The EZ10’s 8kWh Lithium LiFePO4 battery can provide up to 14 hours’ drive time.
TAG already has a presence in Adelaide via a joint venture called Precision Buses, and it is from Precision’s site that the autonomous vehicle hub will operate. While the programme will use vehicles manufactured in France, TAG believes there may be scope for the autonomous buses to be manufactured locally in the future, provided the trials are successful. Exactly where and when the trials will take place is expected to be confirmed later in the year.
“South Australia has the opportunity to benefit immensely in all areas of this emerging industry,” said TAG CEO Michael McGee.
“Our immediate focus is on working with EasyMile to deliver successful trials across Asia-Pacific and expanding our local knowledge, skills and capabilities around driverless bus technology, operations and maintenance.
“However, as the market for autonomous electric vehicles matures, we are well positioned through Precision Buses to locally manufacture and assemble autonomous vehicles, and this is something we are very excited about for South Australia.”
South Australia has emerged as a hotbed of technological innovation in recent years, with the state government backing a range of clean energy and energy storage projects, as well as autonomous vehicle pilots. Coventry-based RDM – which built the driverless pods for the UK government’s Lutz Pathfinder project – opened an office at Adelaide’s Flinders University in 2017, and has previously stated its desire to build a manufacturing facility in the region. The Asia-Pacific market is expected to be one of the fastest growing for electrified last-mile mobility and driverless technology.