A few months back, the beachfront of Adelaide in Australia witnessed the arrival of a smart transit hub named Matilda, which can communicate with driverless vehicles registered within its network. This is an attempt to provide people real-time information on the whereabouts of their ride around town, mainly tailored to cater to the needs of the disabled and the elderly, who might have trouble accessing shared public transport services.
SAGE Automation, the automation solution company behind the technology of Matilda, chose the southern Australian city of Adelaide for its first deployment, because the state was one of the earliest to introduce regulations allowing trials for autonomous vehicles on public roads. Matilda makes sense, because it can help organize driverless vehicle services and make it easy for people to get information on their rides and also in booking shuttle transit around the local area.
“Matilda is a smart transportation hub or a smart bus stop designed for this generation of smart mobility and connected vehicles. The purpose of Matilda is to bridge the community with self-driving cars and shuttles, and to help people understand the technology as well as inform them about how it works,” said Hugh Palmer, U.S. regional manager of smart mobility at SAGE Automation.
To bring this to fruition, SAGE Automation partnered with Local Motors – a company that builds and sells autonomous shuttle buses. While studying the autonomous vehicle landscape, the company realized that people were reluctant to step onto a self-driving vehicle because they did not know how it worked.
“The concept of a smart bus stop would address this and also help in inviting the community to start using public transport. We can use this technology to enable our disabled and elderly community, invite and give them the means to engage with autonomous vehicles in a more friendly and more accepting manner,” said Palmer. “Matilda is designed for people with a hearing handicap, visual impediment, or cognitive impairment. They can now be better facilitated to use public transportation independently.”