The Northern Territory Government is aiming to beat the rest of the country in implementing an autonomous passenger vehicle network, announcing last week it will begin trailing driverless vehicles.

A six-month trial of the EasyMile EZ10 ‘driverless’ vehicle will take place from the Darwin waterfront to Stokes Hill from early next year.

This will make the NT the second state to trial autonomous solutions, with a three-month trial of a bus recently winding up in Western Australia.

According to NT Chief Minister, Michael Gunner, the trial will align Darwin with modern cities around the world.

“Autonomous transport technology is no longer science fiction – it’s here and we are leading the way,” Gunner said.

“With this project, the NT Government and Darwin join an exclusive list of jurisdictions worldwide actively developing autonomous transport including Singapore, Dubai/UAE, France, Netherlands, California and Japan.

“This project is something I have been interested in for a while now as we need to look towards these technologies as an alternative and niche way of efficiently and safely moving people around precincts and the CBD – and ultimately, the potential of linking the harbours between Stokes Hill and Cullen Bay.

“This trial will see the vehicle transport people between Stokes Hill Wharf and the Darwin Waterfront, and from there we can look towards future options in the Top End.”

The fully autonomous vehicle provides zero emissions when operating, is fully air-conditioned and capable of carrying up to 12 passengers at one time.  The vehicle can provide up to 12 hours of operation per charge.

The first stage of the trial will cost the NT Government approximately $150,000.

Autonomous buses have become the flavour of the month for cities around the world, with Gunner confirming there are several other organisations in the country looking at the technology.

“The EZ10 vehicle attracted international and domestic notoriety during the Intelligent Transport System World Congress and there are now a dozen International and Australian clients actively seeking vehicles from EasyMile including universities, airports, precincts and shopping centres,” he said.