The roads are about to change forever in Western Australia, with Perth selected as one of three global cities to trial automated taxis.
Developed by French company NAVYA, the driverless ‘Autonoms’ are expected to arrive down under in April 2018, with closed-road testing to follow.
If all goes well, the WA government will begin looking for sites for an on-road public trial.
NAVYA is joining with the WA government and Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia (RAC) to bring the future of transport to Australian roads.
Western Australia Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that the state could capitalise on the initiative to become a global leader in autonomous vehicles.
"I am very proud that Western Australia is leading the way with Perth being one of only three cities worldwide trialling these vehicles,” she said.
"We will work closely with RAC and NAVYA to ensure the trial is a success, with the safety of the public being of the highest priority."
The other cities selected to trial the vehicles are Paris, and a yet-to-be-determined U.S city.
The vehicle operates like ridesharing app Uber, with customers able to request a ride using a smart-phone app.
Instead of a driver, the car uses 10 sensors, 6 cameras and 4 radars to navigate the road.
Able to carry six passengers and with a maximum speed of 50km/h, the service is mainly targeted at assisting in shorter commutes while also clearing congestion.
Innovation and ICT Minister, Dave Kelly, said that while the cars don’t require drivers, they will still create jobs.
"The autonomous vehicle revolution is coming and WA has the potential to be at the cutting edge of this new technology,” he said.
"High-tech new industries such as autonomous vehicles will be a source of the jobs of the future and I want to ensure this state is well placed to take advantage of these opportunities."
The autonomous cab trial follows the RAC Intellibus shuttle bus trial, also in WA, which has now commenced its on-road trial and travelled for over 6,685 km in autonomous mode and completed more than 1,910 thirty-minute rides.
While the technology has most definitely arrived, safety concerns and regulations remain the biggest obstacle for companies like NAVYA.
For the Intellibus to begin its on-road trial, the WA Government was required to make more than 700 legislative changes.
The government said it would continue working with the private sector to ensure autonomous vehicles are given every chance to succeed.