Trial of fully autonomous vehicles set for Christchurch Airport next year

New Zealand's first trials of a fully autonomous electric vehicle will take place in Christchurch early next year.

Christchurch Airport will host the trials using a French made Navya 15 person shuttle, starting on private roads, with the long term aim of moving to public roads once the vehicle has been deemed safe and all regulatory approvals are in place.

Christchurch Airport GM Corporate Affairs, Michael Singleton, says the airport is interested in the potential of the vehicle for linking key areas around the airport campus in the future.

"We hope to eventually see autonomous vehicles operating in and around the airport," he says.

"Before that could happen, we want to understand the infrastructure and operating requirements for these vehicles, to understand the human/technology interface and to build the safety case for autonomous vehicles on our campus."

HMI Technologies has purchased the vehicle which is fully autonomous, has no steering wheel and is electric powered.

It is expected to arrive in Christchurch before Christmas, with the trial scheduled to begin early in 2017.

The trial partners will work with University of Canterbury researchers and developers, who will help design and undertake the trials.