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South Australia to host automated vehicle trials

ARRB Group and the SA government announce a series of single vehicle trials with trucking implicatons


Driverless vehicles are set to face their first real testing in Australia, with the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB Group) today announcing a month-long series of trials in South Australia.

The car-only trial will use a Volvo XC 90 with a number of driver aid systems including lane departure correction, self-parking, and self-driving. It will be tested away from general public traffic, on closed-off parts of the Southern Expressway in Adelaide, Adelaide Airport, and the Tonsley Innovation Park.

While the vehicle will have a human occupant during the trial, it will rely solely on these aids – with systems designed to keep drivers engaged and alert switched off.

“Driver aid systems are the forerunner to driverless vehicles,” ARRB Group managing director Gerard Waldron says.

He notes that the Australian-first series of trials will place the country at the forefront of automotive innovation, alongside research taking place in the US, UK and Sweden.

It will mean technology can be calibrated in line with Australian traffic systems and driving conditions.

“ARRB will establish how driverless technology needs to be manufactured and introduced for our climate and road conditions, including what this means for Australia’s national road infrastructure, markings, surfaces and roadside signage,” he says.

Waldron says the trial will also help boost awareness of self-driving technology among government stakeholders and the general public.

To this end, he thanks the South Australian government for its enthusiastic support.

SA premier Jay Weatherill helped to make the announcement of the trials in Adelaide today. “This trial presents a fantastic opportunity for South Australia to take a lead nationally and internationally in the development of this new technology and open up new opportunities for our economy,” he shared.

Other supporters of the trial include technology partners Telstra and Bosch, the Royal Automobile Association of SA, Adelaide Airport, Codha Wireless, and Flinders and Carnegie Mellon universities.

Waldron says widespread adoption of automated vehicles, including in the transport sector, would depend on governments and road users accepting the improved safety and efficiency value that automated technology can bring.

Those gains are most prevalent when it comes to road transport businesses, he says, where a driverless truck could save operators up to 40 per cent of their journey costs through saved labour and more efficient fuel use.

The November trials will coincide with a national conference on automated vehicles, being hosted by the SA department of planning, transport and infrastructure.

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