RAC Automated Vehicle Trial

Funded

RACWA Holdings Pty Ltd

Perth, Western Australia

Project stage

In progress

Timeframe

Start date: 17 November 2017
End date: 28 June 2019

Project value

Australian Government funding:
$490,000
Total:
$980,000

Partners

  • City of South Perth
  • Department of Transport

Focus area

  • City and community planning
  • Visitor experience
  • Innovation and economic development

Project type

  • Smart traffic management
  • Community engagement
  • Visitor experience
  • Integrated mobility
  • People movement

Technology type

  • Network infrastructure
  • Data Management (Data platform, open data, data privacy and security, blockchains, standards)
  • Environmental sensors
  • Autonomous vehicles

Open data link

Project link

Project summary

RAC is a member organisation and works to ensure our members and the wider community have access to safer, easier and more sustainable mobility options. 

In partnership with State and Local Government, RAC is working to test and evaluate a fully driverless, fully electric shuttle.

The Trial's three aims are to:

  1. Increase the understanding about the potential impacts and opportunities from the advent of automated vehicle (AV) technology
  2. Give Australians the chance to see AV technology and use and experience it
  3. Further help Australia prepare a roadmap for changes to support and safely transition to AV technology.

The challenge

The RAC Intellibus was launched in August 2016, to guide RAC as a road safety advocate on how best to see AV technology integrated into our transport systems and to give the community a practical way to further their understanding of AV technology. 

In November 2017, the trial was awarded Smart Cities and Suburbs funding to expand the existing program scope to test and evaluate new AV technology to work toward moving the trial from phase one (existing demonstration route) to an end mile transport solution.  The challenge for RAC is to advance the existing trial and develop its testing program simultaneously.

The public trial is key in providing a place where the community can see, learn about, experience and share perceptions of AVs.  Expanding the route and program offerings will help maintain community engagement.

Operating the trial on open public roads has added complexities of navigating unpredictable road users, road works, construction works, and more recently for South Perth, a major redevelopment of the foreshore (along the route planned for phase three). 

These learnings are vital in expanding RAC policy position on AVs and AV technology, which is important in being able to advocate for our members' concerns, capture opportunities and ensure that future mobility needs are met in a safe, easy and sustainable way.

For the project to achieve its milestones we need to work with multiple industry and government groups to further test and evaluate Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors and Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) technology to enable the shuttle to be able to go through traffic lights - which is complex.

There are a number of critical policy challenges associated with the introduction of AV technology, including infrastructure planning and developing a suitable regulatory framework. Multiple regulatory areas will need to recognise and account for situations in which no human driver is in control of a vehicle, such as registration and licensing, safety, data privacy, infrastructure and Motor Accident Injury Insurance.  RAC draws upon its experiences with the AV Program to contribute towards policy development. 

Solution

Over the past three years of being involved with AVs we have learnt that the most important resource is the project team and their ability to work within an evolving environment.

To achieve all milestones a comprehensive test and evaluation plan was prepared.  On completion, reports are compiled and learnings shared with a wider audience through stakeholder working groups, government submissions and presentations.

RAC is motivated to operate successful trials not as a manufacturer or supplier, but with the intention to investigate the impact that AVs could make to our transport networks and our one million members’ ability to move safely, more easily and more sustainably. 

As such, scoping future stages of the AV Program is key, and will be done through expanding the engagement of regional WA and the next generation of transport users through:

  • An Intellibus school program pilot (completed October 2018)
  • A short term regional demonstration (launched May 2019).

The project will enable RAC to better advocate for best practice.

Benefits

The RAC Intellibus was the first public trial in Australia and is well known and respected in the industry for its safety-first approach.  RAC has over 110 years of history as a road safety advocate and as a trusted WA brand is well positioned to explore the possibilities of AVs.

Since August 2016, the trial has taken 12,000 passengers on 5,500 thirty-minute trips travelling almost 20,000 km in autonomous mode.  Collecting data from pre- and post-ride surveys and operational reports (completed at the end of each trip). 

To better understand what Western Australian’s know, think and feel about AVs, RAC has commissioned Painted Dog Research since March 2016 to undertake a community awareness and perceptions survey.  This was then repeated in late 2016 and annually since, to gather comparative data.  Age, gender and location sampling quota are applied, and data weighted to be representative of the WA population.

Over that time, RAC has complied major submissions on AV related topics, given numerous presentations and engaged widely with key stakeholders to transfer knowledge.  

Lessons learned

There are many unknowns about AVs and how they will change travel, as such public trials are crucial in providing real-life learnings.  For RAC operating a trial has helped overcome issues relating to vehicle importation, registration, insurance, liability, risk, trial guidelines and standards.  Ability to operate a successful trial can be attributed to strong multi-sector, private and public partnerships built on mutual trust and collaboration. 

The community is receptive and must be involved while technology remains in development – from our research safety is a key benefit and concern.  Key findings from our annual Community Perceptions Monitor show that almost nine in ten Western Australians have now heard of AVs and that prompted awareness of the Intellibus within the community has moved from 27 per cent (2016) to 61 per cent (2018).  Along with this increase in awareness there is a richer understanding of AVs, the technology used and that AVs are being tested and trialled in Australia. 

Outcomes

Smart Cities and Suburbs funding has facilitated completion of the following:

  • Analysis of LiDARS
  • Analysis of Lane Keeping technology
  • Analysis of current charging capacity (baseline data) compared to wireless induction charger capacity
  • Analysis of Navya’s Real-time kinematic (RTK) global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) base station (base line data) compared to alternative RTK GNSS base station using Networked Transport of RTCM via Internet Protocol (NTRIP)
  • Data and collection analysis
  • Optimisation through service enhancements
  • Intellibus School Program Pilot
  • Intellibus Regional Demonstration.

Data is collated and analysed community perceptions from 2016, compiling a comparative report for the first, second third wave of data which has been published on our website, 2018: Community Perceptions Monitor.

The following are ongoing:

  • Analysis of Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) technology
  • Operating phase 3 of the route
  • Establish an agreement with a national research partner.

RAC has completed numerous submissions to guide policy, trial guidelines, insurance and liability of AVs and given many presentations to stakeholders in a variety of roles from industry to local government to speaking international on the trial. 

The Intellibus has enabled over 12,000 people to experience AV technology firsthand and helped position Australia as a global leader in the testing and trialling of AVs.

Contact details

Name: Rachael Sage
Phone: 08 9436 4870
Email: rachael.sage@rac.com.au