The NSW Government has launched a motorway trial of autonomous vehicles, coming hand in hand with the launch of its Future Transport Strategy 2056, which lays out the plan for the state’s transport infrastructure over the next 40 years.
The trial will see collaboration between motorway operator Transurban and car manufacturers BMW, Lexus, Hyundai, Mercedes, Audi, Tesla, and Volvo, with on-road trials running on motorways including the Lane Cove Tunnel, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Harbour Tunnel, the M5, and the Eastern Distributor.
Andrew Constance, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, said the project will look to “build trust and reliability” for driverless vehicles.
“This research will show us where we may need to make changes in how we maintain and improve our current road infrastructure, as well as how we design, build and manage smart infrastructure in the future,” he said.
Minister for Roads, Maritime, and Freight, Melinda Pavey added, “Automated technologies like Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Traffic Sign Recognition are becoming more common and are no longer just the domain of luxury brands.”
According to a statement, the trial will see cars “operate under different conditions and at different times of the day”, with the data collected to be published by the end of the year.
The data will be collected through a purpose-built app created by Transurban, with the app to help track, record, and measure the “interaction” between the vehicles and the existing road infrastructure.
The NSW Government began running its first trial of autonomous vehicles at Sydney Olympic Park last year, partnering with HMI Technologies, the NRMA, Telstra, and IAG for a two year trial of a driverless shuttle bus.
Also testing autonomous vehicles is the Victorian Government, which in mid-2017 partnered with VicRoads, RACV, and Transurban to trial connected and automated vehicles from BMW, Mercedes, Tesla, and Volvo on the Monash-CityLink-Tullamarine corridor.
The three-phase trial aims to gauge how to prepare roads infrastructure, regulations, and the community for the rise of automated vehicles into the state’s transport system.
The first stage of the trial is looking to explore how features such as lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and traffic sign recognition respond to the road environment, including tunnels, roadworks, congestion, electronic speed signs, and line markings.
Underscoring the need for such trials and careful regulation, the NSW Government project comes just a few days after news broke of a self-driving Uber hitting a pedestrian in the town of Tempe, Arizona. The woman later died in hospital from injuries sustained in the crash.
According to the Tempe Police Department, the car was in autonomous mode at the time that the crash occurred however had a human safety driver behind the wheel.