BusBot progresses to the more complex objectives of phase two with Papercast technology
Australia’s first regional trial of an automated passenger vehicle service has moved into phase two after a hugely successful nine-week run on the Northern Breakwall in Coffs Harbour. Passengers benefit from live, accurate travel information at bus stops thanks to Papercast solar powered e-paper displays with BetterETA technology.
This second phase of the BusBot Automated Vehicle Service is underway at the Toormina’s Marian Grove Independent Living Village, with a more complex route featuring 36 stops. It is the first automated shuttle in the world to provide an on-demand service in an independent living village. Several elements of automated transport will be tested including the integration between an automated vehicle and an on-demand smartphone app (Via) for the first time ever.
“This trial is about understanding how automated vehicles can improve transport options in rural and regional communities. We will answer questions on how the vehicle meets various mobility needs, how an older community interacts with the technology, and how the community accepts driverless connected technology as a feasible transport option,” Managing Director of Busways, Byron Rowe, said. “Phase two is an extremely exciting phase of the project where we’ll see new technology integrations trialled for the first time”.
Papercast solar powered e-paper bus stop displays provide BusBot controllers with a platform for direct real-time communication with customers at the bus stop. The screens show live arrival times as well as information about the route, the driverless vehicles and the overall trial. The controller can reassure customers in real-time, show additional service information and dynamically push notifications to a route or area. The displays also come with a text to speech function, so with a push of a button it will announce the next service to arrive at the stop.
One Papercast display is permanently located at the Recreation Centre (town centre stop), with a second mobile display to be located at other stops so as many passengers as possible can experience the service.
“This initiative has the potential to transform the way communities think about and use public transport, and we are delighted to be involved with this cutting-edge project,” comments Robert Bicket, CEO at Papercast. “We believe that engaging passengers with valuable service information is at the heart of future transport, and this trial takes a major step forward in shaping the most successful model for autonomous transportation of the future”.
The automated passenger vehicle trial is an NSW Government initiative, led in partnership between Transport for NSW’s Smart Innovation Centre, local bus operator Busways, Coffs Harbour City Council and vehicle manufacturer EasyMile. The trial aims to revolutionise the way passenger transport services are designed and delivered in rural and regional communities. This is a three-phase trial where the technology is tested in more complex environments as the trial progresses.
Phase one delivered a rewarding and successful start to the project, providing a platform to pursue the more complex objectives in phase two and three. Operating over nine weeks, the service covered 915km, carrying 5014 passengers with zero safety incidents, and overwhelming support from the community. The project reported 86% satisfaction and 84% stated they would use such a service again.
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