The humble designated driver will be a thing of the past if an Expression of Interest for a NSW Regional Automated Vehicle Trial in the heart of the Hunter Valley’s spectacular vineyard region gets the green light.
Singleton Council has joined forces with HMI Technologies, Professional Data Kinetics, the Around Hermitage Association and other stakeholders to make a submission to Transport for NSW to bring a sophisticated automated shuttle network to Pokolbin.
Dubbed Autovino, the driverless shuttle would deliver customers between award-winning wineries, restaurants and accommodation on a 6km route on Hermitage Road, set against the majestic Brokenback Mountain Range.
Mayor of Singleton, Cr Sue Moore said as well as providing a safe and comfortable means for visitors to experience the area, the project would also drive benefits for the local economy.
She has appealed to NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance for a successful outcome to Council’s submission.
“The significance of the Transport for NSW trial is that the concept of driverless cars is no longer the stuff of science fiction, and we have no doubt there would be a great level of interest from people who would come to Hermitage Road to see the network in action for themselves,” Cr Moore said.
“But the reality is, a driverless network is a perfect solution for visitors to Hermitage Road to experience the food and wine, craft beer, olive groves and day spas our region is famous for - without the hassle of driving between venues.
“That’s why so many businesses, including the Around Hermitage Association, have joined forces with Council on this proposal.
“Our Expression of Interest proposes a location that is second to none in terms of amazing scenery and a vast array of attractions within a relatively small geographical space, all within easy access of Sydney, technical experts and Transport for NSW personnel.”
Cr Moore said the trial was expected to create two local technical-related jobs, with the potential to support additional jobs in tourism, engineering, communications, education, research and traffic management.
“There are enormous benefits this project would deliver to Singleton and the wider region, not least a contribution to economic diversification and promotion of future jobs,” she said.
“The automated vehicle trial is an exciting project, and I’m sure NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance will agree that Hermitage Road is the perfect location.”