RAC and French technology company Navya has expanded its partnership to facilitate further developments of autonomous vehicles in Australia, NZ and South East Asia.

Navya and RAC joined forces to create the RAC Intellibus and according to Terry Agnew, CEO of RAC, the new deal will see the expansion of trials and increase opportunities for further innovation.

“This exciting collaboration will see RAC coordinate the on-site commissioning of Navya vehicles in Australia, New Zealand, parts of South East Asia and Japan as well as providing a range of technical support services,” Agnew said.

“We are also focussed on continuing to put automated technology to the test to help save lives and stop serious injuries on our roads, with human error estimated to cause around 90 per cent of road crashes.

“With Navya autonomous vehicles being fully electric, this partnership also supports the development of environmentally sustainable transport options into the future.”

Navya CEO Christophe Sapet believes the partnership would expose more people to the technology.

“Navya is successfully delivering an ambitious program to deploy our smart mobility systems all over the world and securing local technical support for our vehicle fleet reinforces Navya’s strong commitment to provide its customers with the best possible services in a timely fashion,” he said.

“RAC is already trialling Navya vehicles in Western Australia and the partnership provides the potential for driverless vehicles to be operated in different environments across Australia and also internationally, including New Zealand, South East Asia and Japan.”

In an Australian first, RAC, with the support of the WA State Government, launched the RAC Intellibus in South Perth in August 2016, with more than 7,000 people registering to take part in the trial so far. The driverless, electric shuttle is designed to complement the existing public transport network by transporting passengers across the first and last mile.

“A longstanding objective of launching Australia’s first driverless vehicle trial in South Perth is to encourage and develop further trials, build research and also encourage wider collaboration. Ultimately our aim is to increase the understanding of how driverless vehicles can be integrated in to our transport system, and how they could best benefit the community,” Agnew said.

“As one of the most progressive shuttle trials in the world, every aspect of the RAC Intellibus project has been aimed at enhancing our experience and understanding of driverless technology.  We’re continuing our own trials in WA, also contributing to a number of national working groups and research initiatives, and assisting with the development of policy to help ensure Australia is ready for the inevitable arrival of driverless vehicles.

“The more government, industry and the public all learn about and engage with driverless vehicles, the more prepared we will be to transition them on to our roads.”