QBE underwrites Australia’s first automated bus service


QBE Insurance has announced it will back “Australia’s longest” driverless bus route, providing the necessary insurance to run the automated shuttle service on public roads.

The country’s largest global insurer announced its formal partnership with the Armidale Regional Council, providing the compulsory third party (CTP) insurance required for the driverless shuttle to operate in the regional city.

Developed through the NSW Government’s Smart Innovation Centre, the Armidale Regional Driverless Initiative (ARDi) is Australia’s first driverless bus service to operate in open traffic, transporting up to 12 passengers at a time.

QBE’s General Manager, CTP Australia, Colleen Chapman said the initial trial will provide valuable data and risk fields for the insurer, with autonomous driving technologies set to play an increasingly important role in public and private transportation systems.

“Crucially, this trial will also provide information about the new risk exposures presented by driverless vehicles, informing the development of future insurance products,” Chapman said.

“With a view to reducing road-related deaths and injuries, we hope this trial will contribute to efforts to quantify improved road safety outcomes, including understanding how the availability of data can inform on traffic incidents.”

“Statistics show that between 90 and 95 per cent of vehicle accidents today are largely caused by human error. As such, QBE seeks to understand how vehicle autonomy can create safer roads and reduce injuries to counteract the high economic and devastating social impact costs of road trauma.”

The five-kilometre route is currently the longest driverless shuttle deployment in Australia and, due to the city’s challenging road infrastructure and terrain, is understood to be among the more complex routes for automated vehicles.

The service is currently in the first phase of a 12-month trial, with the complexity of operations increasing throughout each four-month phase. The first phase will concentrate operations within the University of New England’s Armidale campus, with the second and final phases expanding the shuttle’s service area to the Armidale CBD.