Via, developer of on-demand shared mobility solutions, has announced its first public autonomous vehicle (AV) service in the world. The AV programme, dubbed BusBot, is now fully operational, serving a community in New South Wales, Australia.
In partnership with local bus operator Busways, Transport for NSW, and AV technology provider EasyMile, BusBot will serve the Marian Grove Retirement Village in Toormina, a suburb of Coffs Harbour. The deployment will serve an entire community of seniors in need of a public transit solution, offering some unique benefits beyond a driverless vehicle.
Using the BusBot app, users will be able to hail the autonomous BusBot directly from their smartphone. Via’s advanced algorithms will enable multiple riders to seamlessly share the driverless vehicle. The powerful technology will direct passengers to a nearby virtual bus stop for pick up and drop off, and dynamically task the driverless vehicle to stops in real-time, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, or inconvenient fixed routes and schedules.
The service marks a milestone for Via’s efforts in autonomous mobility. AV technology is maturing, and Via is building and deploying solutions that will enable AVs to function in real-world situations as part of optimised, shared transportation systems, such as the BusBot deployment.
Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via, said: “If autonomous vehicles are to reach their full potential for providing low-cost, efficient rides, they need to be shared by multiple passengers. Via’s sophisticated systems are able to power, in real-time, the movement of millions of connected autonomous shuttles and their passengers, and we’re delighted to be working with BusBot to launch this groundbreaking service.”
Via has provided more than 50 million dynamically-routed rides around the globe, and has applied this experience in shared mobility to AVs. Along with acting as a city-wide network of on-demand, shared vehicles, Via also solves common public transportation challenges, such as filling first-and last-mile transit gaps and acting as a bridge to major trunk services like high-frequency bus or rail lines.
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