Curtin is the first Australian university to trial a commercial driverless bus. This trial will contribute to the growing field of research in automated driving technology.
Why trial an autonomous bus?
Once confined to science fiction, automated technology is now an everyday reality. Curtin’s autonomous bus is carrying out research in navigation satellite systems, road safety, sustainable transport systems and mobility options for people who are unable to drive.
How it works
Curtin’s autonomous bus is 100% electric and uses input digital programming, remote sensors and GPS to determine its route and navigate obstacles.
The bus can carry up to 11 passengers and safely drive up to 45km per hour. A technician rides in the bus to monitor its performance, and can manually operate the controls if required.
Curtin’s driverless bus was named through a community competition. Patrick Ryan entered his suggestion of ‘Kip’ after John and Elsie Curtin’s pet kelpie dog, and this was voted by the public as the winner.
Where does Kip go?
Curtin’s autonomous bus travels on a pre-determined route from building 304 to 408, from 10am to 2pm, Monday–Thursday.
The bus contains remote sensors, stereo cameras and GPS systems to detect obstacles, however it’s important that pedestrians, cyclists and those operating vehicles be mindful of the bus if travelling along this route.
Potential positive changes of driverless technology
Autonomous vehicles will transform not only the way we commute, but how we engage with our community and environment. Some of these potential positive changes include:
- Safer and more sustainable transport.
- More mobility options for people who are unable to drive (such as the elderly or people with a vision impairment).
- Reduction in traffic congestion and noise pollution.
- Transformation of our urban layout (less roads and car parks required).
- More affordable transport costs.
- Increases in cultural connectivity and engagement.
Safety and responsibilities
- 90% of all car incidents are caused by human error. Driverless technology can help to reduce the number of accidents on our roads, and significantly reduce the costs associated with vehicle crashes.
- One of the biggest challenges for driverless cars is negotiating other manual drivers on the roads, and also protecting the technology from external interference.
Academics from across the University are researching how we can better understand and use driverless technology.
Research projects include:
- How autonomous vehicles can be successfully utilised by people with physical disabilities.
- How the technology can help develop global and regional navigation satellite systems.
- How autonomous vehicles transform the way passengers and the wider community understand their relationship with everyday technologies.
Curtin’s autonomous bus is run completely on electricity, which makes it environmentally friendly and reduces its carbon footprint.
Contact for research enquiries
If you are a research academic interested in pursuing AV bus research, please contact the Chair of the AV Bus Research Trial, Professor Tele Tan at firstname.lastname@example.org.