Imagine a car driving you to the airport while you read the paper, dropping you off, and then driving itself home or back to its car share pod – saving you money on taxis and parking fees.  How about telling the car to pick you up at work, navigating peak hour traffic for you or pick up your groceries or dry cleaning? Or what about a night out? Autonomous vehicles mean you always have a designated driver. The autonomous vehicle, or robo car, isn’t just about a driverless car, it is about a revolutionary change in the way we will live and get around.

Ethel the Yaris at UNSW

Ethel the Yaris at UNSW

GoGet, Australia’s first and largest car share organisation, is leading the way into this future with the launch of Australia’s first industry-backed Autonomous Vehicle Research and Development program (AVRAD) in conjunction with the University of New South Wales, Sydney.   The program is based on data being collected by Ethel the Yaris, a prototype robo car equipped with data collecting instruments vital to understanding autonomous vehicle use.

“Ultimately, the future is one in which everyone will have a chauffeur if they want one, thanks to vehicles that will drive themselves,” Bruce Jeffreys, GoGet co-founder said.  “But autonomous vehicles are so much more pivotal than this.  They will clearly reshape society.  Today’s big question —one that I believe we have begun to answer— is how exactly will Australia reach that future?”

As part of its ongoing commitment to research and development, GoGet plans to take autonomous driving to the next level with further steps that could see this dream become a reality in Australian cities within the next 5 years.

GoGet is working tirelessly on the project that, according to its other co-founder Nic Lowe, could be the future of car sharing and “the future of all urban transport.”

Not only will what GoGet and UNSW learn provide a range of applicable insights into driverless vehicles, this will serve as a platform from which these insights and evolving technology can be integrated into car share, making car share one of the top transport solutions of this century.

Director of the UNSW Research Centre for Integrated Transport Innovation (rCITI) Vinayak Dixit said, “We’re getting information about how people drive and how they interact with different moving entities as well as other infrastructure. This information is extremely useful when you’re trying to develop algorithms for autonomous driving.”

Future generations will scratch their heads when their elders speak of road rage – it simply won’t exist.  Hooning will also be a thing of the past as will bingles in the drive through.

Here are some of the major updates to this exciting project:

  • The four radar sensors, video camera and small on-board computer have reported data that could be used to explore the feasibility of real-time charging schemes for car insurance.
  • Sensors detect pedestrians, bicycles, other cars and roadside infrastructure for safety because reaction to changes in road conditions and environment are of utmost importance.

GoGet is also focusing on the implications of privacy and whether real-time insurance schemes will actually prompt drivers to behave with safety in mind for a financial reward.

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