In the interests of transport and sustainability in Perth and Australia as a whole, one of our own – Mike Rathbone, Project Director-Transport, recently gave Perth’s newest mode of transportation a try. With this with this fully electric driverless bus' implementation anticipated by 2020, the way we use and think of transport is changing. Below he shares his experience:
Today I rode the RAC Intellibus™.
The tour started after a short introduction in which the hosts talked a little bit about the following:
- Development of autonomous vehicles
- Timing of implementation (expect significant uptake from 2020)
- How the bus navigates using a combination of GPS, cameras and 2D and 3D LIDAR scanners.
During the 30 minute ride, further information was provided:
- Perth is the first autonomous vehicle trial in Australia, second in the world
- The trial will continue for several more months
- The bus follows a pre-programmed 'virtual rail', which is accurate to centimetres
- Can safely pass within 5-10cm of objects
- The bus automatically slows when LIDAR detects an object ahead that will encroach within 5cm
- The bus is currently 'learning' from its chaperone (an on-board pilot who intervenes at selected times to assist in certain decision points)
- Once the bus' learning is judged to be sufficiently well developed, the tests will increase in speed and complexity (longer and through more difficult traffic - e.g. Mill Point Road and through signalised intersections)
Because the current route is quite narrow and the vehicle is programmed to stay on the left of the centreline for the purpose of the test, it does pass very close to parked cars. At one point a wing mirror must have been protruding into the 'perceived obstacle' zone and the vehicle stopped quite suddenly. Although this was a mildly disturbing event, it was nevertheless reassuring to know that the systems were functional and effective. A natural driver would have crossed the centreline to give sufficient clearance to be safe in such a situation but the Intellibus is currently not permitted to make such a manoeuvre. However, as its learning and autonomy develop, it will be able to assess the safety of stopping versus moving across the centreline, based on its judgment of oncoming traffic.
The experience was overall very interesting and informative, and one which I recommend registering on the website to participate!
The Pritchard Francis team is proactive in seeking and adopting new approaches and technologies which support efficiency and sustainability in development and communities as a whole - the RAC Intellibus™ is one such example. The firm has also recently adopted the eToolLCD integrative design method, which uses life cycle assessment to examine every impact aspect of a product over its entire life span, and has implemented Virtual Design Construct (VDC) modelling on recent projects to assist the builder in increasing efficiencies on site.
To discuss implementing sustainable practices in your next development, contact a member of the Pritchard Francis team.