Gold Coast Smart Shuttle Trial – Main Beach

  • Project typeRoads & transport
  • Project scheduleDecember 2021 to December 2022
Gold Coast Smart Shuttle Autonomous Vehicle

About the trial

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.

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The Gold Coast Smart Shuttle Trial

  • Shuttle seats 6 passengers
  • Has a trained chaperone on board at all time
  • Travels up to 18 km/h
  • Includes an automated access ramp
  • Is a free service
  • No bookings required
  • Available to anyone who wishes to ride
  • Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult

Benefits of the trial

The Gold Coast Smart Shuttle Trial will test how an autonomous shuttle service can:

  • Contribute to the development of digital and smart city initiatives
  • Prepare the Gold Coast for a future transport ecosystem that embraces technology
  • Contribute to sustainable transport outcomes
  • Help to reduce congestion and improve road safety (by providing alternatives to car travel)
  • Support mobility and better connectivity between public transport stops and key destination points

Background

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.

Community impact

Parking and traffic changes in the Main Beach precinct include:

  • New shuttle stops in 7 locations
  • Minor parking changes to allow for bus stops and lane reconfiguration
  • Storage shed for shuttle located in Helen Park
  • Two-way traffic in Main Beach Parade (between Stafford Avenue and Macarthur Parade) allowing the shuttle only to enter from Main Beach Parade and travel westbound through the car park area
  • Traffic impact during 12-month trial due to slow speed of shuttle

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.

FAQs

How will drivers know that the RACQ Smart Shuttle is in operation?

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.

As a driver, how can I get around the shuttle? Can I overtake it?

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.

As a pedestrian, is it safe for me to walk nearby?

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.

Why was Main Beach chosen as the location for the trial?

Main Beach provides a good test environment for the Gold Coast Smart Shuttle Trial for several reasons:

  • Connectivity to light rail public transport stop
  • Provides a transport function between light rail, Tedder Avenue and Main Beach
  • Meets the environmental testing criteria of the vehicle manufacturer

Where are the bus stops located?

There are seven shuttle stops in Main Beach:

  • Breaker Street (just before the intersection at Tedder Avenue)
  • Tedder Avenue northbound (just before the intersection at Peak Street)
  • Hughes Avenue (just past the intersection at Tedder Avenue)
  • Main Beach Parade (just past the intersection of Main Beach Parade and John Kemp Street and north of the existing Translink bus stop)
  • Main Beach Parade carpark
  • Tedder Avenue southbound (just past the intersection at Main Beach Parade)
  • Tedder Avenue southbound (just before the intersection at Hughes Avenue)

How long does it take the shuttle do one loop?

It takes approximately 30 minutes for the shuttle to complete one 2.4km circuit.

How does the shuttle work?

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.

Is the shuttle electric? How often is it charged?

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.

What happens if there is an obstacle in front of the shuttle?

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.

How safe is the shuttle?

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.

Does the shuttle operate if it’s raining?

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.

Is the shuttle accessible?

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.

Why are there new bus stops for the trial, rather than using existing ones?

To minimise disruption to existing bus services, The Gold Coast Smart Shuttle Trial requires dedicated shuttle stops.

What parking changes have been made on Tedder Avenue (near Main Beach Bakery)?

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.

Are bikes/dogs/surfboards allowed on the shuttle?

No bikes, scooters, surfboards or dogs (except guide dogs), are permitted on the shuttle. Wheelchairs and prams are permitted.

What are the traffic changes at Main Beach Parade?

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.

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