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Driverless airport shuttle to be trialled

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/10/2016

Christchurch International Airport is going to try out a driverless electric shuttle that can carry 15 passengers.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the airport company and HMI Technologies will start trials with the French-built Navya shuttle next year.

"The opportunity to conduct extensive research about this electric passenger transport shuttle will provide essential information about the vehicle and how it might be used in different New Zealand transport environments," he said on Tuesday.

"Autonomous vehicles are an important part of the future of transport."

It's expected to arrive in the country before Christmas and both parties will fund the two-year trial though they won't reveal the cost. Autonomous shuttles are said to be cheaper, safer, and more efficient than driver-manned public transport.

Navya's Arma travels at a top speed of 45km/h, has no steering wheel, and the only infrastructure it requires is an inductive charging station.

University of Canterbury researchers and developers will help design and undertake the trial.

New Zealand's transport laws don't require a driver to be present for AVs to be used on the road although any trial requires an approved safety management plan.

The NZ Transport Agency and the Ministry of Transport will work with the trial partners to manage safety risks.

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