Intelligent truck safety trial gets green light

By: Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi

Fleet of 30 IT-armed vehicles to be in initial test of advanced driver warning systems

Intelligent truck safety trial gets green light
The test is about technology in the service of safety


A technology trial on a major New South Wales transport link is set to change the transport industry.

The NSW Transport Department is trialling the Co-operative Intelligent Transport Initiative (CITI) on a 42 km route from Port Kembla to the Hume Highway at Picton Road interchange near Wilton – a route known for its crash history involving trucks, in a bid to increase safety.

The project is aimed at reducing truck accidents and improving traffic flow and will see trucks transmitting and receiving warnings about road hazards.

Adelaide-based company Cohda Wireless will provide anti-collision devices for the CITI trial.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson says several operators around Port Kembla have expressed interest in the trial.

"A few of those will be participants in the first stage of the trial, which will include 30 heavy vehicles being fitted with the device," the spokesperson says.

"The technology can warn drivers of imminent collisions with nearby similarly equipped vehicles, current speed limits, potential red-light violations, local road conditions such as road works, fog and water over the road, and approaching emergency vehicles."

The trial will begin in the second half of this year, with a second phase involving up to 120 vehicles to follow shortly.

The department will signalise up to three intersections as part of the test that will warn participants when approaching a red light.

The first stage has received funding of $1.4 million from the Federal Government’s Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, the NSW Government and IT research organisation NICTA.

Cohda Wireless Chief Technology Officer Paul Alexander says overseas trials of the technology have also attracted interest from the automotive sector.

"Cohda Wireless stretch far beyond the trucking industry – our central focus is on getting these kinds of units fitted into all automobiles, trucks and passenger vehicles," Alexander says.

"You can expect to see these kinds of systems in passenger vehicles in the 2016/17 timeframe."

The technology is half the size of a tissue box and can be installed anywhere in the cabin.

It runs protocols which allow communications between trucks– a measure that will not make drivers complacent.

"We have safety systems in our vehicles today – seatbelts and airbags and we don’t rely on them to save us, so it’s really just if you’re being inattentive that you’ll get a warning from the device," Alexander says.

"The communications between the vehicles doesn’t rely on a line of sight connection; the message is transferred either between the vehicles or the vehicles and the traffic signals.

"The value of that is very much around safety – the trucks can see the other vehicles even though the driver can’t so it’s really like X-ray vision."

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