The future of driverless vehicles

August 14, 2017

The Victorian government has started its autonomous driving technology trials. Launched to “help Victoria prepare for the future of driverless vehicles” the trial is being carried out in cooperation with roads company Transurban, along with VicRoads and RACV.

“This technology is moving at a rapid pace and we want to ensure our roads and the community are ready for these changes,” said VicRoads CEO John Merritt. RACV general manager for public policy, Brian Negus said the insurer’s involvement is primarily to understand what benefits the technology can deliver. “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” Negus said.

Global engineers for Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have also been carrying out their own localised data gathering and development for autonomous driving technology and Volvo was a key partner in the Southern Hemisphere’s first driverless tests in Adelaide.

Victoria’s driverless technology project will see existing and upcoming autonomous and connected vehicle systems tested on the Monash-CityLink-Tullamarine corridor. Unlike South Australia’s closed-road tests carried out in 2015, Victoria’s trial, at least in the initial stages is occurring amongst regular traffic users.

Initial testing will focus on learning how existing systems in market, including lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition react to different every-day environments and situations like tunnels, road works, congestion, electronic speed signs and line markings. A professional driver will be present and hands-on at all times. Hands-free testing will not be part of the trial, or at least not in this “first phase”. The entire project will take two years, running through a total of three phases.