The Victorian government has announced that, together with automakers and technology firms, it will begin testing semi-autonomous vehicle technologies on Melbourne’s busy Monash-Citylink-Tullamarine corridor operated by Transurban.
Not to be outdone the state’s other tollway operator, ConnectEast has also announced that it too will begin an 18 month trial of semi-autonomous vehicle technologies in the EastLink tollway in collaboration with La Trobe University.
Rather than pioneering new developments in autonomous vehicle technology the trial programs are centred around understanding how systems like distance-keeping cruise control, lane keeping assist, and traffic sign recognition systems already available in the Australian new car market work with the state’s infrastructure.
“Industry experts say we will have fully driverless cars on the market in the next 5 to 10 years and we need to make sure our infrastructure is ready to meet this demand,” said Transurban CEO, Scott Charlton.
“Highly automated vehicles have the potential to significantly boost road safety, relieve congestion and improve social mobility. We are pleased to partner with the Victorian Government to look at how these vehicles could one day deliver benefits for local road users.”
Findings from the trial programs will then be used to optimise road markings, overhead speed signs and roadway design to better work with future vehicle systems, with the findings of the trial to be shared with car makers, and VicRoads, to ensure a smooth transition to the era of hands-off driving.
The Victorian Labor Government is also seeking industry feedback on its Future Directions Paper, which opens the door to establishing guidelines for more advanced autonomous vehicle trials in the future
“We’re working with Australia’s top road researchers and road operators to ensure we’re at the forefront of this technology to reduce congestion and increase road safety,” Victoria’s Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan said of the EastLink program.
“This trial will pave the way for EastLink to support vehicle manufacturers activating the technology so commuters can enjoy all the benefits of safe hands-free driving.”
The semi-autonomous vehicle trials will take place using an array of vehicles from numerous manufacturers to better understand variances in how the systems currently offered work in real-world situations.