Australia: Victorian government to trial driverless vehicles on public roads
The state government of Victoria, Australia formally approved their decision to test drive autonomous vehicles on two of the state’s major connecting motorways the CityLink and Tullamarine Freeway. Other auto makers like BMW, Mercedes, Volvo and Tesla are also involved in this initiative. This 2 year project is divided into 3 phases.
The cars will drive along side other commuters. But during the process of a public testing, a driver is always to be present. The Victorian State law requires, drivers always keep a hand on the steering wheel. However, in occasional closures of the Burnley Tunnel, with no other drivers to endanger, the cars are to be tested with nobody in the vehicle.
Features like Lane assist, cruise control and recognition of traffic signs are in the trial’s first phase. It is expected to completed by the end of the year. This includes monitoring how the driver-less cars respond to road conditions, including lane markings and electronic speed signs.
“Victoria is at the forefront of automated vehicle technology — 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”, said Luke Donnellan, the Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety. He noted, “Ninety per cent of the fault of accidents is human error […] so we know that if we can take out human error we will have less accidents”.
Tim Hansen, Victoria Police’s Acting Assistant Commissioner, said that police had founded a project team to investigate how self-driving vehicles would change policing on roads. “Can we intercept vehicles more safely to avoid pursuits and ramming?”, he asked.
The trial is a partnership between the state government, Victoria’s road management authority VicRoads, owner of the CityLink toll road Transurban, and insurance company RACV.