Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan inside an automated car made by Bosch. Photo credit: Transport Accident Commission Victoria
Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan inside an automated car made by Bosch. Photo credit: Transport Accident Commission Victoria

3-phase trial in Victoria

A two-year self-driving vehicle trial is underway on the Monash-CityLink-Tullamarine corridor to help Victoria prepare for the future of driverless vehicles.

The Andrews Labor Government is partnering with VicRoads, RACV and Transurban, to trial connected and automated vehicles from manufacturers BMW, Mercedes, Tesla and Volvo.

The Andrews Labor Government is partnering with VicRoads, RACV and Transurban, to trial connected and automated vehicles from manufacturers BMW, Mercedes, Tesla and Volvo.

“We want to get a clear understanding for our members of the potential safety improvements offered by automated vehicles; how the technology works and what the implications are for the community,” RACV General Manager Public Policy Brian Negus said.

The study will look at how to prepare road infrastructure, regulations and the community for the integration of this new technology into Victoria’s transport system.

“This technology is moving at a rapid pace, and we want to ensure our roads and the community are ready for these changes,” VicRoads CEO John Merritt said.

“we’re investing in this trial to explore ways that this technology can be used to reduce crashes and keep people safe on our roads.” — Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan

The first phase of the program will examine how features like lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition, respond to the road environment including tunnels, road works, congestion, electronic speed signs and line markings.

The vehicles involved in the trial comply with existing Australian Design Rules and road safety regulations and will have professional drivers who will be holding the steering wheel at all times when conducting trials in live traffic.

Automated vehicles have enormous potential to make our journeys safer and more efficient, and to help the community travel with more ease, including people with limited mobility.

“Automated vehicles will revolutionise how we move around our communities and deliver safer, smoother traffic flow,” said Transurban Group General Manager Strategy Wes Ballantine.

Automated vehicles are an important step to reducing road trauma, with human error contributing to more than 90 per cent of crashes.

Phase one of the trial will be complete later this year. The complete trial program will take two years and consists of three phases.

Driverless shuttle bus trial in Sydney

A driverless shuttle bus will be trialled at Sydney Olympic Park as part of a two-year trial of autonomous vehicles launched by the state government of New South Wales.

The first stage, to begin later this month, will start with safety checks of the shuttle bus. The vehicle will operate autonomously on a pre-programmed route.

Eventually, the public will be able to hop onto the automated vehicle, Transport Minister Andrew Constance announced early this month.

According to Mr Constance, the trial is part of the state government’s vision for “a technology-enabled transport future in NSW”.

“Today is an insight into the future. We drive our cars today but into the future, the cars will drive us,” Mr Constance said.

“What we are going to see over the next 10 years is an incredible change in the way in which our road network, our transport network operates as a result of full automation,” Mr Constance added.

NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said that “if we can have more autonomous vehicles on the network in a safe and efficient way, that is just going to be a good thing.”

She said that the government wanted to use the trial to develop systems that would allow automated vehicles to be connected to traffic lights and other transport infrastructure, and to the public through devices and applications.

“There are so many benefits of autonomous vehicles. We are saving more lives. We are reducing congestion. It’s great for the environment,” said Kyle Loades, NRMA Chairman.

The trial is run through the NSW Government’s Smart Innovation Centre with the support of Transport for NSW and NSW Roads and Maritime Services, as well as private industry partners; HMI Technologies, Telstra, NRMA Motoring and Services, Sydney Olympic Park Authority and IAG.

The second stage of the trial is due to start in the last quarter of the year and will take place at a closed-off section of Sydney Olympic Park.

Passengers will be able to use the automated vehicle at the beginning of 2018.

Trials in other States

A $250K driverless bus trials started in Perth last year. The vehicle can carry 11 people at a maximum speed of 45km/h and can read traffic lights and sense other vehicles.

A driverless bus trial is also going on in Darwin. It started in January with passengers being transported between popular tourist spots along the city’s harbour.

Meanwhile, the South Australian government has also announced a trial of driverless buses in Adelaide.

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