‘Robot’ bus to be tested in Australia

Sydney, Feb 9 (IANS) A French-made robot bus is set to be tested in Australia as part of wider preparations for the use of autonomous vehicles on local roads.

The driverless electric shuttle bus will carry 15 passengers at speeds of up to 45 km per hour in Western Australia’s state capital Perth using three-dimensional sensing technology that allows the bus to avoid obstacles and detect and read road signs, Xinhua news agency reported.

Western Australia’s Transport Minister Dean Nalder on Tuesday said the trial would help test the concept of automated vehicles on the state’s roads.

“It is a trial, and at the end of the day trials have ups and downs. There will be things that don’t work that we’ll learn from, but it’s all about learning so we’re better prepared for the future,” Nalder said.

Royal Automobile Club (RAC) of Western Australia CEO Terry Agnew said the staged trial, which is being conducted by RAC, would help lawmakers understand the legislative and practical challenges posed by autonomous vehicles.

“Not only are we thinking about regulation and how it might work operationally, but importantly we can start understanding the human factor of how Western Australians will embrace and use this innovative technology,” Agnew said.

The development of self driving technology has become the latest battleground in the technology market with global automotive manufacturers snapping up software experts in the race to develop a self-driving car for the consumer market.

Many of the world’s automotive manufacturers are catching up, with suggestions they will have roadworthy autonomous cars before 2020. Mercedes, Audi and Google all have working prototypes.

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