Posted: 18 January 2019

Tonsley based firm SAGE Automation has helped to achieve transport history with the Australian debut this week of ‘Matilda’ – the world’s first smart transit hub – as part of a landmark integrated trial with a driverless shuttle in South Australia.

The locally-developed and manufactured Matilda partners with the Olli driverless electric shuttle developed by the US-based Local Motors for the milestone 6-month trial at Glenelg.

One of the Matilda smart transit hubs is located outside the Stamford Grand and another is adjacent to the Broadway Kiosk, with the Olli shuttle taking passenger between the two stops along the beachside route.

The trial is supported by the State Government’s Future Mobility Lab Fund, which boosts local testing, research and development of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

The bus can take up to eight people at once and the transit hub offers smart integrated technology to commuters.

The Olli shuttle is based on military-tested technology and is fully capable of operating autonomously. The vehicle incorporates a detection systems and computer-vision to provide awareness of its environment and perform autonomous navigation.

Olli and Matilda have an on-board human machine interface and cognition allowing them to ‘talk and interact with passengers, providing information about the vehicle and its surrounds.

The hub was launched this week by Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll

‘The State Government is pleased to partner with local company SAGE Automation, US-based Local Motors and the City of Holdfast Bay to trial the world’s first integration of an autonomous shuttle with a smart transit hub along the foreshore at Glenelg,” Minister Knoll said.

“The Marshall Liberal Government is committed to improving South Australia’s public transport system and this new autonomous technology provides us with a glimpse of what could be possible in the future .”

“Investment in this space drives innovation and this particular project will allow more people to enjoy one of Adelaide’s most popular spots. It will also improve accessibility to the local area providing a last mile solution with the Glenelg Tram.”

SAGE Chief Executive Officer, Adrian Fahey said this type of integrated technology trial had never been done anywhere in the world before.

"We look forward to giving people an interactive, personalised experience, including real-time travel updates and route assistance through Matilda, and testing how this exciting technology interacts with the Local Motors driverless shuttle."

Adrian Fahey, SAGE Chief Executive Officer

“Passengers can ‘talk’ to our Matilda transit hub, receive directions, book a ride using touchscreen technology, receive congestion alerts and even ask questions about local tourist attractions or where to get a cold drink,” he said.

“To grow smart, accessible cities of the future we need to make devices, vehicles and infrastructure talk to each other, and Matilda offers a seamless, tailored transit service by communicating with any driverless bus fleet and the people wanting to catch one.”

The trial demonstrates how a first-and last-mile transport solution can integrate with existing public transport, fill any service gaps and reduce traffic congestion in heavily-populated urban spaces. It also showcases how driverless technologies can share public space with pedestrians, cyclists and recreational activities.

Relocatable within a few hours, each Matilda runs on solar or battery power and is fully self-contained, meaning that it can easily be trialled at different ‘first’ or ‘last mile’ locations. That unique flexibility allows the smart transit hub to be rapidly deployed for network maintenance and downtime periods, used during temporary deployment during special events, and for testing demand for new public transport services.

The trial will be monitored in real-time from SAGE Automation’s state-of-the-art National Operations Centre at Tonsley, ensuring a high level of security for autonomous vehicle operators and users, and providing data to enhance future deployments.

“In addition to leading edge technologies such as IBM Watson and KinTrans systems, each Matilda features audio and visual cues to assist anyone with visual and hearing impairments, as well as making it easier for elderly commuters and those with disability,” he said.

Olli will be travelling at a walking pace during the trial and will carry up to eight passengers and a steward onboard.

People will be able to ride at no cost and can book a seat at each Matilda via the interactive screen or online via sageautomation.com/matilda.