The future arrived at Christchurch Airport this morning, with
the introduction of
the fully autonomous Smart Shuttle for New Zealand's first on-road
The Smart Shuttle will carry 15 people, has no steering wheel
and is electric powered.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says Christchurch is well
known as the Garden City, but is also the home of innovation and
"Today's launch demonstrates this. Autonomous electric vehicles
are part of our future. They are coming ready or not and I'd
rather be ready. Christchurch has become a city of opportunity … a
place where anything is possible. The significance of attracting
this project to Christchurch at this time cannot be over-stated.
This is an incredibly exciting time in our history."
Christchurch Airport Chief Executive Malcolm Johns says the
airport team is keen to understand how autonomous shuttles might
operate at Christchurch Airport and how people may react and
interact with them.
"We can see the potential for driverless vehicles to transform
and enhance mobility and transport options on the airport campus.
We want to explore the possibility of deploying autonomous vehicles
to assist people moving around our campus efficiently and
sustainably, so we formed a partnership with HMI Technologies to
consider how we might make this happen."
HMI Technologies is New Zealand's leading Intelligent Transport
System (ITS) provider and Dave Verma, Director of Australasian
Driverless Vehicle Technologies, says the company is involved in
the vehicle trial for three key reasons.
"Firstly as an intelligent transport systems innovator, our
R&D and business development teams will get vital hands-on
experience. We also hope the trial will prove the efficacy of
autonomous vehicles to commercial operators like Christchurch
Airport, and to government decision makers. Additionally we want
the New Zealand public and students to have the opportunity to
participate and provide feedback on the experience.
HMI sees that the AV vehicle technology is emerging at a rapid
pace and there are opportunities for New Zealand to be at the
forefront of this technology. We are an established operator
and innovator in the intelligent transport systems industry, so are
well positioned to be an early adopter and facilitator for trials
and commercial applications."
The New Zealand based and funded trial will begin in the next
few weeks on private roads on the airport campus.