Australia could lead the world in development of autonomous (self-driving) cars following the lead of a Tesla Model S developed in Victoria by German giant Bosch with funding assistance from the Victorian Government.
And locals will get the chance to sample the car next week.
Developed by a team of 45 people over the past nine months, the Tesla - one of only five similar vehicles worldwide - runs new Bosch technology which the company claims is ten years ahead of other self-driving cars.
At this stage, a driver is still needed but the vehicle is capable of navigating roads without driver input.
According to Bosch chief Gavin Smith, in comparison with the other four cars under development, the Australian developed Tesla is the world’s best.
“This one is the most advanced, incorporating some very sophisticated human machine interface, which allows the car to detect which driver is in the passenger seat and change the configuration of it to suit that driver and their preferences,” Mr Smith explained.
“We have developed this vehicle to what we would describe as level four highly autonomous state, which is just before you get to a driverless car.”
With some 60 additional components, six radars, six LIDARs, high resolution GPS, and a stereo video camera supported by 13 computer networks and linked by an additional two kilometres of copper wire, Mr Smith said the Tesla probably has enough computer power to put a spaceship on the moon.
Cameras compile a complete picture of the road and what is on or around it - including other cars, pedestrians, cyclists etc - while inside, cameras keep watch on the driver for signs of fatigue or falling asleep.
Next step is on-road testing which includes the opportunity for members of the public to sample the car in Melbourne over coming days.
“These trials are important for VicRoads to indentify how driverless vehicles are going to interact with the infrastructure in our local community, with the infrastructure in traffic lights,” revealed Victorian Roads Minister Luke Donnellan.