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.
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.
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.
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.
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?