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Driverless shuttle trial at Christchurch Airport
By Nicholas Jones • 04/10/2016
A driverless transport shuttle will soon be zipping around the grounds of Christchurch Airport - with future plans to have autonomous vehicles transport passengers.
The two-year research trial of a French-built Navya shuttle will largely take place at Christchurch International Airport from next year.
The driverless 15-seat passenger transport shuttle will at first be driven on private roads with no public present, and have a long-term aim of moving to public roads.
he vehicle is fully autonomous, has no steering wheel and is electric powered.
New Zealand company HMI Technologies and Christchurch International Airport are running the trial together.
The airport's general manager of corporate affairs, Michael Singleton, said the airport is interested in using the technology to link up areas around the airport campus.
"We hope to eventually see autonomous vehicles operating in and around the airport. Before that could happen, we want to understand the infrastructure and operating requirements for these vehicles, to understand the human/technology interface and to build the safety case for autonomous vehicles on our campus."
Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the first research trial of a driverless electric shuttle would provide "invaluable" information about the vehicle and potential uses in New Zealand.
The University of Canterbury, Christchurch City Council, the NZ Transport Agency and the Ministry of Transport would also be involved in the trial.
"Our supportive regulation around testing autonomous vehicles, enabling new technology to be tested while protecting public safety, have helped make this trial possible," Bridges said.
"Autonomous vehicles are an important part of the future of transport and offer potential safety, efficiency and environmental benefits."
Former Secretary for Transport Martin Matthews will oversee the trial.