Christchurch Airport this morning introduced the fully autonomous Smart Shuttle for New Zealand’s first on-road research trial.
The Smart Shuttle will carry 15 people, has no steering wheel and is electric powered. The trial will prove the efficacy of autonomous vehicles to commercial operators like Christchurch Airport, and to government decision makers. Additionally we want the New Zealand public and students to have the opportunity to participate and provide feedback on the experience.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says Christchurch is well known as the Garden City, but is also the home of innovation and creativity.
“Today’s launch demonstrates this. Autonomous electric vehicles are part of our future. They are coming ready or not and I’d rather be ready. Christchurch has become a city of opportunity … a place where anything is possible. The significance of attracting this project to Christchurch at this time cannot be over-stated. This is an incredibly exciting time in our history.”
Christchurch Airport Chief Executive Malcolm Johns says the airport team is keen to understand how autonomous shuttles might operate at Christchurch Airport and how people may react and interact with them.
“We can see the potential for driverless vehicles to transform and enhance mobility and transport options on the airport campus. We want to explore the possibility of deploying autonomous vehicles to assist people moving around our campus efficiently and sustainably, so we formed a partnership with HMI Technologies to consider how we might make this happen.”
AV vehicle technology is emerging at a rapid pace and there are opportunities for New Zealand to be at the forefront of this technology. The New Zealand based and funded trial will begin in the next few weeks on private roads on the airport campus.