In August 2021, Council endorsed the decision to run a 12-month autonomous vehicle trial on the Gold Coast. Main Beach was chosen as the most suitable location.
The Gold Coast Smart Shuttle Trial will test autonomous vehicle technology on the Gold Coast. The trial is a joint initiative between the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) and City of Gold Coast with the support of the vehicle manufacturer EasyMile.
The Gold Coast Smart Shuttle Trial will test how an autonomous shuttle service can:
The Gold Coast Smart Shuttle Trial is part of a broader autonomous vehicle research program conducted by RACQ.
Following 2 successful deployments of the RACQ Smart Shuttle on the Redlands Coast, the trial on the Gold Coast will seek to increase the level of complexity and further understand the capabilities of the RACQ Smart Shuttle to operate in a live traffic environment. For information on previous trials visit RACQ Smart Shuttle.
Parking and traffic changes in the Main Beach precinct include:
We have consulted with local businesses and residents directly impacted and we apologise for any inconveniences these changes may cause. All parking and traffic changes have been signed accordingly and additional electronic signage has been installed to alert drivers of the trial zone.
We have installed signage to inform drivers that the RACQ Smart Shuttle is operating. We’re also working with Surfside buses to make sure the shuttle doesn’t interfere with current public transport operations.
If it's safe and legal to do so, then it is okay to overtake the RACQ Smart Shuttle. Normal road rules apply. Due to the onboard sensors and safety zones around the vehicle, it is recommended you leave approximately 3 car lengths (or approximately 15m) space in front of the shuttle before re-entering the same lane.
It's safe for pedestrians to walk nearby the shuttle when it is operating. It is recommended pedestrians and cyclists leave at least 1.5m space between themselves and shuttle so as not to impede with the onboard safety sensors.
Main Beach provides a good test environment for the Gold Coast Smart Shuttle Trial for several reasons:
There are seven shuttle stops in Main Beach:
It takes approximately 30 minutes for the shuttle to complete one 2.4km circuit.
When in autonomous mode, the RACQ Smart Shuttle follows a pre-programmed route and uses its various sensors on board to collect a 360-degree view of the surrounding environment to detect objects and interact with other road users. The shuttle relies on the fusion of several sensors (localisation lasers, GPS, odometry and cameras) to localise and navigate itself.
The RACQ Smart Shuttle is fully electric and is charged overnight in its secured temporary storage location. The shuttle will operate a full service on a single charge.
The shuttle has anti-collision software that allows the vehicle to detect objects at least 40 metres away. The software, in conjunction with its various sensors, enables the vehicle to detect and adjust its speed in a safe and predictable manner when interacting with other road users.
EasyMile has operated in 21 countries and has transported more than 320,000 passengers over 250,000km without serious incident.
To further ensure safety, a number of dynamic vehicle tests using the RACQ Smart Shuttle have been successfully completed as part of the conditional permit provided by the Queensland Government before starting the trial.
The shuttle can operate in light rain. However, the service will be suspended during severe weather to prevent damage to the onboard components as well as ensuring safety of the chaperone, passengers, and other road users.
The shuttle has a compliant ramp on board which can be deployed by the chaperone at each stop when required.
The vehicle can also lower to reduce the floor height to improve safety for passengers boarding and exiting.
The on board chaperone is appropriately trained to help people with a disability.
To minimise disruption to existing bus services, The Gold Coast Smart Shuttle Trial requires dedicated shuttle stops.
Two quarter hour parking spaces (1/4P) in front of Main Beach Bakery have been removed to create a shuttle stop.
To compensate, we have created 4 new quarter hour parking spaces (1/4P) located just behind the new shuttle stop on Tedder Avenue and around the corner on Peak Avenue.
No bikes, scooters, surfboards or dogs (except guide dogs), are permitted on the shuttle. Wheelchairs and prams are permitted.
Main Beach Parade (between Stafford Avenue and Macarthur Parade) is now two-way traffic within the car park area allowing the shuttle only to enter from Main Beach Parade and travel westbound through the car park area. Entry for all other vehicles remains from Stafford Avenue.
Within the car park area, vehicles can now travel eastbound and westbound with the new function to exit on to Stafford Avenue.
Reverse parking is now required in all parking bays in Main Beach Parade (between Stafford Avenue and Macarthur Parade) to provide better vision of the shuttle approaching.
Gold Coast Smart Shuttle Trial map(PDF, 1MB)