Firm partners with EasyMile to launch trial in Australia

The BusBot pilot will last for 22 weeks


Demand responsive technology firm Via has expanded its operations with the launch of its first autonomous vehicle. The company’s first autonomous vehicle trial, dubbed BusBot, is now fully operational, serving a community in New South Wales, Australia.

The company has significant experience in demand responsive ride-sharing in many cities around the world. In the UK it has already partnered with Arriva and Go-Ahead to offer the technology with conventional vehicles, but this is the first time it has been used with AVs.

In partnership with local bus operator Busways, Transport for NSW, and AV technology provider EasyMile, BusBot will serve the Marian Grove Retirement Village in Toormina, a suburb of Coffs Harbour. The deployment will serve an entire community of senior citizens who were in need of a public transit solution, offering some unique benefits beyond a driverless vehicle.

Using the BusBot app, users will be able to hail the autonomous BusBot directly from their smartphone.

Using the BusBot app, users will be able to hail the autonomous BusBot directly from their smartphone. Via’s algorithms will enable multiple riders to seamlessly share the driverless vehicle to reach their destination. The powerful technology will direct passengers to a nearby virtual bus stop for pick up and drop off, and dynamically programme the driverless vehicle to stop in real-time, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, or inconvenient fixed routes and schedules.

The deployment in Marian Grove began in April and marks the second phase of BusBot’s pilot programme, with plans to operate in the community for 22 weeks. It will give Via and its partners time to test increasingly advanced AV elements. Throughout the pilot, passengers will travel on the service for free.

The service marks a milestone in the company’s efforts in autonomous mobility. AV technology is maturing, and Via is building and deploying solutions that will enable AVs to function in real-world situations as part of optimised, shared transportation systems, such as the BusBot deployment.

“If autonomous vehicles are to reach their full potential for providing low-cost, efficient rides, they need to be shared by multiple passengers,” said Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via. “Via’s sophisticated systems are able to power, in real-time, the movement of millions of connected autonomous shuttles and their passengers, and we’re delighted to be working with BusBot to launch this groundbreaking service.”

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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