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Gold Coast Smart Shuttle

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by Karen Ross (subscribe)
I love slow travel, slow food and discovering new adventures and delicious regional food in new locations. I'm on an indulgent quest and I'd love you to follow at
Published February 12th 2022
For those who like to travel at 18 km/h
I'm a fan of slow travel and I have just stumbled on a very different slow travel vehicle. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it yet, but it's new and it's fun so let me share the story with you.

Gold Coast Smart Shuttle
Gold Coast Smart Shuttle

While enjoying a slow lunch in Tedder Avenue recently, a unique-looking vehicle entered my peripheral vision. It seemed to have no obvious back or front. It was travelling slowly and, if vehicles have feelings, it was feeling unsure about where it was going.

Driverless bus
Driverless bus

We are a curious couple so we kept an eye on the vehicle while finishing our lunch, asked Google what it might be, then followed it to find out more.

Welcome aboard
Welcome aboard

It was making regular stops so we didn't have to chase it too far (nor chase it too fast) before it stopped. The doors opened to reveal its non-driver, Uwe, who introduced himself as the 'chaperone'

Chaperone Uwe

Uwe explained that Gold Coast Council had taken the decision to run a 12-month autonomous vehicle trial aimed at providing a transport function between the G:link tram, Tedder Avenue and Main Beach. It's called the Gold Coast Smart Shuttle and it follows a 2.4km long circuit, stopping seven times along the way.

Shuttle stops
Shuttle stops

It's free to travel and the entire circuit takes around 30 minutes to complete one loop. The shuttle takes up to six passengers and no bookings are required.

It's powered by electricity and is fitted with anti-collision software that allows the vehicle to detect objects at least 40 metres away. In addition, its various sensors enable the vehicle to detect and adjust its speed when interacting with other road users.

Smart shuttle stop
Smart shuttle stop

Mindful of the progress being made in the area of Artificial Intelligence, we asked Uwe if the shuttle could 'think'. Apparently, it can't, at least not yet, rather it is pre-programmed to function and react to predictable occurrences. I guess he means obstacles on the road and passengers who alight slowly.

Passenger seats
Passenger seats

Bikes, scooters and surfboards are not welcome on board. Frankly, there's not enough room. Service dogs can ride with their humans and wheelchairs and prams are permitted.

All aboard the smart shuttle
All aboard

Apparently similar autonomous vehicles operate in over twenty countries, many without a chaperone, and no serious accidents have been recorded.

Gold Coast Smart Shuttle
Gold Coast Smart Shuttle

There are a few minor changes to parking and traffic directions in the vicinity to cater for the shuttle. You can read further details here.

It's a futuristic initiative designed to contribute to smart city technology. It remains to be seen how the shuttle will be received by drivers and how many passengers will use the service. It's definitely fun and a different way to get around so why not jump on board?
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Why? It's a sustainable solution in the travel world
When: 11am - 3pm
Where: Main Beach, Gold Coast
Cost: Free
Your Comment
You call that a bus? What a unique innovation. I'm not sure if I like the no driver aspect though. Well seen and described Karen.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|4280) 187 days ago
Could this be any cuter. What a great way to get around the Coast
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|5139) 187 days ago
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