Via announced its first public autonomous vehicle (AV) service in the world. The AV program, dubbed BusBot, is now fully operational, serving a community in New South Wales, Australia. In partnership with local bus operator Busways, Transport for NSW, and AV technology provider EasyMile, BusBot will serve the Marian Grove Retirement Village in Toormina, a suburb of Coffs Harbour. The deployment will serve an entire community of seniors in need of a public transit solution, offering some unique benefits beyond a driverless vehicle.

Using the BusBot app (iOS and Android), users will be able to hail the autonomous BusBot directly from their smartphone. Via’s advanced algorithms will enable multiple riders to seamlessly share the driverless vehicle. The powerful technology will direct passengers to a nearby virtual bus stop for pick up and drop off, and dynamically task the driverless vehicle to stops in real-time, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, or inconvenient fixed routes and schedules.

The service marks a milestone for Via’s efforts in autonomous mobility. AV technology is maturing, and Via is building and deploying solutions that will enable AVs to function in real-world situations as part of optimized, shared transportation systems, such as the BusBot deployment.

Via has provided more than 50 million dynamically-routed rides around the globe, and has applied this experience in shared mobility to AVs. Along with acting as a city-wide network of on-demand, shared vehicles, Via also solves common public transportation challenges, such as filling first-and last-mile transit gaps and acting as a bridge to major trunk services like high-frequency bus or rail lines.

The deployment in Marian Grove began on April 8, 2019 and marks the second phase of BusBot’s pilot program, with plans to operate in the community for 22 weeks, giving Via and its partners time to test increasingly advanced AV elements. Service for riders will be free during the pilot program.