Nearing the last days of horse transport, passengers board J. Hill & Co. coaches outside the Windsor Castle Hotel, Franklin Street, Adelaide, about 1903.
Image by Francis Gabriel, courtesy State Library of South Australia

FROM HORSELESS CARRIAGES TO DRIVERLESS
VEHICLES, ADELAIDE
 EMBRACES CHANGES
and leads the way in new modes of transport 

 

ADELAIDE HOSTED THE FIRST ON-ROAD TRIAL IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE OF A DRIVERLESS CAR (2015) and it produced the first wholly Australian-designed, -engineered and -made electric buses for trials on the city's transport network (2017). 

Aside from being the last Australian city to give up on horse-drawn trams (after being the first to adopt them), Adelaide has been a trailblazer in new transport modes. It took on the bicycle revolution from the 1860s-70s with gusto. Its bicycle makers – and its horse-carriage builders – rapidly switched to building motor cars and motor cycles at the turn of the 19th Century. Adelaide became a major centre for car body building until factors such as the Depression and the greater scale of associated American car companies overtook them.

Adelaide motorists led Australia in the rate of ownership of motors cars at the start of the 20th Century just as they have with the proportional takeup of electric cars in their nascent stage in the 21st Century.

South Australia further led the nation in embracing autonomous vehicle technology by introducing Australia's first legislation to allow for on-road trials of autonomous vehicle. In 2018, Adelaide’s world-leading autonomous vehicle technology company Cohda Wireless was able to test two driverless Lincoln MKZ sedans in the city’s CBD.

The fastest (30km/h) driverless vehicle to hit Australia's roads was unveiled in Adelaide in 2018 in a five-year trial to transport university students in the southern suburbs. The Flinders Express shuttles between Flinders University, a train station and Flinders Medical Centre

Also in 2018, Transit Australia Group and French company EasyMile signed an intent with the state government to deliver autonomous vehicles into South Australia and Asia Pacific markets. Transit Australia Group’s would set up a national operations control centre to manage autonomous vehicles in Australia-New Zealand region. Its autonomous electric buses would be built in Adelaide for domestic and export markets.

Partnering with the City of Playford, and using $350,000 from the state government’s Future Mobility Lab Fund, EasyMile would test its autonomous vehicles on northern suburbs roads, leading to shuttle service between Lyell McEwin Hospital, Elizabeth shopping centre, bus and train hubs.

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