Cynthia Gillespie, WSP’s Director of Advisory Services, who hails from Armidale says, “This trial is so exciting – automated vehicle technologies have the potential to improve the day-to-day lives of people in regional communities who need to travel more easily and safely to the shops, social activities and health services.
“It’s important for us to be part of strategic initiatives like these – this is a great example of the benefits that can be realised when collaborating with government to enhance and grow future ready regional communities.”
ARDi is an EasyMile EZ10 driverless electric bus with an in-built access ramp for mobility-challenged people. It can carry up to 12 passengers and operates on either fixed or on-demand routes on existing roadways without needing extra infrastructure.
Transdev is supervising ARDi’s Armidale operation and we are supporting the stage two trial with route selection, feasibility and safety, safety assurance, and systems engineering.
This trial is also unique for being led by a local government. Armidale Regional Council worked closely with Transport for NSW to facilitate this trial, together with partners comprising The University of New England, EasyMile, Transdev, QBE Insurance and Edwards Buses and WSP.
At the project’s conclusion, we will compile a whitepaper summarising how ARDi interacted with traffic, infrastructure and people, and will outline future potential commercial opportunities for automated vehicles to benefit the community.
Scott Benjamin, WSP’s Technical Director for Intelligent Transport says, “We have been focused on the automated journey since the very beginning. As part of our purpose to helping communities thrive we are committed to solving unique transport challenges, particularly those we have in regional areas – reducing private vehicle use, reducing accidents on country roads, and improving access to transport in regional cities.”
A Transport for NSW spokesperson said today’s opening showcases the major role Armidale continues to play in unlocking the future of regional transportation.
“What we are experiencing today is an Australian-first, the first automated shuttle to operate in mixed traffic within a city centre,” said a Transport for NSW spokesperson.
WSP and EasyMile have signed a national agreement to explore and deliver a range of projects together. We began working together on phase one of this project in February 2019.
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