Raphael Toda, the project manager from Local Motors, said trials like this represented the first step in challenging people’s mindsets to encourage them to think differently about how they move around.
“We recognize the South Australian government for its leadership and commitment to support this trial through the Future Mobility Lab,” he said.
“It’s South Australia’s preparedness to invest in testing, research and development of connected and automated vehicle technologies that provides a significant advantage in this emerging global industry.
“It is sure to create new, specialized high-technical jobs and export market opportunities.”
The easily transportable Matilda hub was developed and manufactured in South Australia by SAGE Automation and Sonnex, a company SAGE worked with as contractors at the now defunct Holden car factory.
The technology has been in development for almost a year, with a major component being engineering services to help people with limited mobility use the hub.
Henry Clayden-Rose, who joined the project on a work placement from the University of Adelaide, worked on user cases to ensure people with different abilities could use the hub and transport system.
“I have a vision impairment so I have an understanding of what the user groups are struggling through,” Clayden-Rose said.
“When it comes to mobility the communities are very timid and I think they need people to actually reach out, which is what we are trying to do with this project.”
The Matilda stop uses IBM Watson technology for voice activation, allowing passengers to ask questions and receive answers, as well as KinTrans software for interactive sign language. The hub also has audio and visual cues to assist anyone with visual and hearing impairments, as well as making it easier for elderly commuters.
SAGE Automation will monitor the system from its National Operations Centre at the nearby Tonsley Innovation Precinct and will use the data to enhance future deployments.
Clayden-Rose said they wanted as many people to use the hub and ride the route as possible so SAGE could tweak the system to help more people.
“What we really want is their user feedback from it so we can improve the technology.”
The trial will further position Adelaide and South Australia at the forefront of autonomous vehicle technology and innovation.
In 2016, South Australia became the first state in the country to introduce laws allowing for trials of driverless cars on open public roads and hosted the 3rd International Driverless Vehicle Summit in Adelaide in November 2018.