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Vic government announces self driving trials

Tech fest: The Victorian government will build on the knowledge gathered by Bosch and its highly-automated Tesla Model S-based autonomous vehicle project.

Autonomous driving tech to be tested by Vic government and Transurban

19 Dec 2016

THE Victorian government has announced that it will begin to trial autonomous vehicle technology in conjunction with toll road network operator Transurban, in an effort to grasp a clearer understanding of what is required to make autonomous vehicles a safe and feasible proposition for Victorian roads.

The government will seek feedback from the automotive and technology industries as a part of its Future Directions Paper, to enact regulatory changes which will allow for the testing of highly automated vehicles on the road.

It aims to establish how to ensure road safety during testing, what constitutes a driver being in control, and the changes that automated driving will bring for the transport system.

The consultation is also designed to create a framework to allow a wide range of vehicles to be tested on Victorian roads, including fully autonomous vehicles that operate without a driver in the cabin.

Trials will begin early next year on the Monash-Citylink-Tullamarine corridor, with a range of automated vehicles that are currently on the market.

Interaction with road infrastructure including overhead lane signals, electronic speed signs and line marking will all be investigated.

It will begin by testing automated vehicles that already comply with existing road rules and regulations, with a driver monitoring the vehicle’s operation, while being on standby to take back control of the vehicle if necessary.

Victorian government minister for roads Luke Donnellan said that the trials in automated technology could help create jobs in Victoria in the future.

“We want to work with the automotive and technology industries so Victoria can be at the forefront of automated vehicle technology and create jobs here in Victoria,” he said.

“Keeping people safe on our roads is our number one priority and that’s why we’re running these innovative trials in the safest possible way for all road users.” The trial will also draw upon the expertise of German parts giant Bosch, whose Australian arm unveiled the country’s first highly-automated prototype vehicle in October, ahead of the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress.

Based on a Tesla Model S, the prototype was developed with the help of $1.2 million of Victorian government funds, contains autonomous technology that is about a decade away from mass production, and according to Bosch Australia president Gavin Smith is so sophisticated that “the computer power would probably put a spaceship on the moon.”

With 90 per cent of car crashes resulting from human error, it is widely regarded that moving towards autonomous technology will assist in the reduction of road trauma.

The government consultation runs from December 15 to February 3.

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