NSW is spending $5 million on an autonomous bus trial

The NSW government is spending $5 million on an on-road Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) bus trial as it looks to ramp up the introduction of autonomous vehicles on NSW roads.

The new on-road CAV bus trial that will see CAV systems developed and tested on full-sized, passenger-carrying buses in NSW.

The announcement comes four years after the pioneering Coffs Harbour trial of a small driverless bus, which was successfully tested along the city’s harbour breakwall to Muttonbird Island, in a local retirement village and then along a 2.6km strip using existing bus stops. The trial wrapped up in November last year and did not continue.

Customer service and digital government minister Victor Dominello said the new trial sits alongside the new NSW CAV Readiness Strategy, which tackles issues ranging from getting the road network ready for CAVS, freight automation and the testing and deployment of the driverless vehicles on the state’s road network.

“Vehicle connectivity and automation are game-changing technological innovations with the potential to sustainably transform the future mobility of people and goods,” he said.

“Globally, these technologies are advancing rapidly and already appearing in vehicles on the market today. We’re putting NSW in the front seat, with a Strategy and funding to back it up to prepare our road network, local industry, and the public for the roll out of this technology.”

The Busbot in action at a Coffs Harbour retirement village providing on-demand travel. Image: Busbot

Metropolitan roads minister Natalie Ward said the CAV Readiness Strategy outlines six priority areas focused on integrating this new technology into our transport system.

“This will include working within the national regulatory framework over the next five years, so we’re ready for the safe commercial deployment of CAVs in Australia. Getting ahead of the game will make it easier to upskill our transport staff so customers have a seamless service when it is officially on our roads.”

Regional transport and roads minister Sam Farraway said expressions of interest are open now for the autonomous bus trial.

“Transport for NSW is calling on local and international technology leaders to partner with bus manufacturers and transport operators to deliver the trial of on-road connected and automated buses,” he said.

“This builds on what NSW has already achieved through autonomous shuttle trials, partnerships with local universities and investment in the Future Mobility Testing and Research Centre at Cudal.”