Kiwi trial of self-drive shuttle

A 15-seat electric shuttle that drives itself will be tested in New Zealand as part of a two-year research trial.

The country’s first research trial of a driverless electric shuttle will provide invaluable information about the vehicle and its potential for use in New Zealand, transport minister Simon Bridges says.

HMI Technologies and Christchurch International Airport today announced the two-year trial of a French-built Navya shuttle in Christchurch, starting in 2017.

They will collaborate with the University of Canterbury, Christchurch City Council, the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and the Ministry of Transport.

“The government is putting New Zealand ahead of the curve in transport innovation,” Bridges says.

“Our supportive regulation around testing autonomous vehicles, enabling new technology to be tested while protecting public safety, have helped make this trial possible.

“Autonomous vehicles are an important part of the future of transport and offer potential safety, efficiency and environmental benefits. It’s exciting to see a New Zealand-initiated trial where the skills and knowledge about managing and deploying the technology will transfer to New Zealanders.”

NZTA and the ministry will work with HMI Technologies and Christchurch Airport to ensure the trial appropriately manages any safety risks.

Volvo and the New Zealand Traffic Institute have already teamed up for New Zealand’s first autonomous vehicle trial. They plan to demonstrate the technology in Tauranga in November.

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