The first driverless public transport vehicle in Ireland took to the streets of Dublin this morning.
The electrically-powered fully autonomous shuttle can carry up to 15 passengers.
Built by French autonomous vehicle technology company, Easymile, the EZ10 shuttle is already in daily use in a number of locations around the world. It uses a range of technologies to drive and guide itself and is capable of operating on existing roadways, without any need for changes to infrastructure.
“We’ve got a LIDAR on the roof of the unit which basically monitors about 400 metres around the vehicle so it tracks the static objects like your buildings, like your street furniture,” said Neil Cunningham, Chief Executive of Civic Group which brought the vehicle into the country. “And then on each corner of the vehicle they have radars. So that looks out for bicycles, pedestrians, any object that is moving.”
Yesterday the vehicle was introduced to the area around the north quays in Dublin, from the Convention Centre to the Three Arena, so it could learn the routes.
For the next two days, without a driver, it will carry passengers along that 1 kilometre stretch of the Docklands to demonstrate the future of mobility, which experts say includes autonomous vehicles powered by renewables.
However, it cannot drive on the public road with other vehicular traffic, because Irish law does not permit autonomous vehicles.
“This works really well in airports or ports or campuses – the last mile where maybe you get off at a DART station or a bus stop and you are trying to get that journey at the end to get you home,” said Jamie Cudden from Dublin City Council’s Smart City programme.
“So we definitely see this taking off. It is in cities and countries around the world already, so we need to think about how we cater for that future.”
To date the government hasn’t moved to regulate for driverless vehicle testing.