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Gold Coast Smart Shuttle
RACQ Gold Coast smart shuttle. Photo courtesy of RACQ.

Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous Gold Coast Smart Shuttle

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The 6 seat EasyMile Smart Shuttle has been deployed in various places in southeast Queensland for the past 3 years. Phase one was located on Karragarra Island between November 2019 and April 2020 and was Queensland’s first full on-road trial. Phase two was carried out at Raby Bay from November 2020 until June 2021. These trials were a joint initiative between RACQ and Redland City Council. The RACQ Smart Shuttle carried over 1,450 passengers throughout the trial in Raby Bay and 949 passengers at Karragarra Island.

Phase three of the trial has commenced in February 2022 on the Gold Coast, which will be a more complex traffic environment and give RACQ key learnings about how the vehicle behaves with a number of different road user groups, like pedestrians, cars, trucks, and light rail.

This little bus has been free to use. It is hoped it can contribute to solving the issue of transport disadvantage. 

The Gold Coast Smart Shuttle Trial is a joint initiative between RACQ and City of Gold Coast with the support of the vehicle manufacturer EasyMile.

“We’re pleased to see more than 1,000 passenger trips have been made in the first two months of the RACQ Smart Shuttle’s deployment at Main Beach,” Mr Mitchell said.

“The shuttle’s 2.4 kilometre loop around the seaside suburb is the most urbanised route an Easy Mile vehicle has driven along in Australia, so we’re excited to track the shuttle’s operating capability in such a complex traffic environment, which to date has been extremely promising with no operational issues reported.

“The full electric, self-driving shuttle, is the only vehicle of its type operating a transport passenger service in Queensland. We’re eager to learn as much as we can from this emerging technology and we encourage locals and visitors to hop on board.”

Although the RACQ Smart Shuttle is fully autonomous, a chaperone that can manually operate the shuttle will travel on the bus. They will be able to assist passengers, administer user surveys, and answer any questions regarding the technology, safety, and operation.

Features of the RACQ Smart Shuttle include:

  • Level 4 — high automation;
  • Fully electric;
  • 6 seats;
  • Seatbelts onboard;
  • Electric ramp for wheelchair access;
  • Maximum trial speed — 20km/h;
  • Obstacle detection within 40 metres.

The RACQ Smart Shuttle uses autonomous driving systems and multiple lidar to navigate the route and detect and react to any obstacle in the shuttle’s pathway.

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