Self-driving bus takes first tour of University of Melbourne campus

By Claire Quinn

The University of Melbourne launched its own autonomous mini shuttle bus today to assist in integrated transport solution research and make transport safer.

The autonomous vehicle is designed for low-speed urban environments and is part of a three-year partnership with French company EasyMile, specialists in autonomous vehicle technology.

Representatives from the university, industry and the Victorian Government had the opportunity to experience the ride the new vehicle along Masson Road on the Parkville campus.

The autonomous bus created a buzz around campus with its presence during the mapping and testing with hundreds of photos and social media posts appearing before the official launch.

University of Melbourne Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis said the vehicle will provide researchers unprecedented access to autonomous technology, putting students at the forefront of research and development.

“It’s researchers, it’s industry, it’s government and it’s people thinking about what autonomous vehicles are going to mean for the future and the hard questions that go with it – how do you program these, how do you make them safe, how you do you make them accessible to the public.”

He said the University’s research is focused on the principles of “here’s the future, how can we be part of it, how can we make it better, how can we make it happen sooner.”

University of Melbourne Professor in Transport for Smart Cities and AIMES Director Majid Sarvi said industry and research partnerships play an important role in transport’s future.

“By partnering with EasyMile through projects such as the University’s Australian Integrated Multimodal EcoSystem (AIMES) – a world-first living laboratory based in the streets of Melbourne – we are able to test highly integrated transport technology that make a real difference to people’s lives,” he said.

At the event, Professor Sarvi said the team was very pleased to have this partnership. “Our students and researchers will have access to the best technology available in the world and enhance it through collaboration between industry and government is an enormous opportunity for us.”

This is a world first, as we are taking information from the AIMES project integrating that with our Ezy Vehicle and also sharing that data globally

Head of EasyMile Asia Pacific Simon Pearce said the University will be the innovation hub for EasyMile in Australia and New Zealand. “This is a world first, as we are taking information from the AIMES project integrating that with our Ezy Vehicle and also sharing that data globally. Teams in France and Singapore will collaborate with University of Melbourne team to demonstrate the application of the autonomous vehicles on the road.”

Manager, Transport Innovation for Transport for Victoria Claire Imray said it was exciting to see technology such as this being developed in Victoria to support fantastic initiatives such as AIMES. AIMES is working with more than 40 industry, government and academic partners, designing a highly-integrated, intelligent ecosystem to deliver safer, cleaner and more sustainable urban transport outcomes.

Read more on Pursuit.

Learn more about AIMES.