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Holly Bennett
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As technology moves towards a driverless future, the University of Melbourne is helping to improve integrated transport solutions and make our transport safer with the launch of its own autonomous mini shuttle bus.

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.

Unique to this collaboration is the inclusion of open platform technology, which will allow the vehicle to be regularly updated by researchers and improved as autonomous software advances. 

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.

“The world is on the edge of a transport revolution,” Professor Davis said. “Technology is transforming the transport industry, impacting not only the way we travel, but also the way we live.

“Having our own autonomous vehicle at the University of Melbourne gives students and academics the opportunity to focus their research projects on real-life transport solutions to improve safety, sustainability and reduce congestion.”

Head of EasyMile Asia Pacific Simon Pearce said the University will be the innovation hub for EasyMile in Australia and New Zealand.

“This vehicle is a functioning example of what the future of mobility for end users looks like, combining the benefits and flexibility of the technology with the economy of group transportation,” Mr Pearce said.

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.

“The benefits of autonomous vehicles are only realised if they are connected with other transport solutions,” Professor Sarvi said.

“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.

“We’re 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. Having our own autonomous vehicle ensures researchers can further improve autonomous vehicle safety and how this integrates with other transport options.”

Read more on Pursuit.