Queensland has unveiled an ambitious plan to host the largest on-road testing trial in Australia as the state prepares for the future arrival of driverless and connected vehicles.
According to Main Roads and Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey, the State has chosen Ipswich as the site of the large-scale test-bed to trial vehicles and infrastructure that can talk to one another as well as to test cooperative and highly-automated vehicles on South East Queensland roads.
“To realise the potential benefits of these emerging technologies, we will undertake a trial over the next four years as part of the Cooperative and Automated Vehicle Initiative (CAVI),” Mr Bailey said.
He said the Government will recruit around 500 Ipswich motorists whose vehicles will be retrofitted with cooperative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS) technology.
“These C-ITS devices work by providing safety warnings to the driver about a range of conditions – for example, a pedestrian crossing at a signalised intersection, a red light runner or a queue ahead that isn’t visible to a driver,” the Minister explained.
According to Mr Bailey, the Department of Transport and Main Roads would be working closely with Bosch to secure some cooperative and highly-automated vehicles for testing like their first self-driving car developed in Australia.
“Our interest in testing these vehicles is to help understand the implications for our infrastructure and drivers, and the improvements to automated vehicle performance when the vehicle can talk to other vehicles and infrastructure,” Mr Bailey added.
“These rapidly developing technologies have the potential to significantly reduce crashes and crash-related gridlock, as well as reduce vehicle emissions and fuel use over coming decades. While industry is leading the development of advanced vehicle technologies, the success of these will rely upon connecting to our existing traffic systems.”
Bosch Australia’s Mark Jackman said the Queensland Government’s CAVI project was another example where industry and government will work together to trial and validate the benefits these new technologies would bring to the market.
“The Bosch highly automated driving vehicle will be used in trials and demonstrations across Australia to assist government and its agencies to prepare for when these cars become commercially available,” Mr Jackman said.
“Project’s such as these are not just vital for the advancement of road safety and public awareness but also for the further development of technical expertise and capability of Bosch Australia engineers.”
The CAVI project, which is co-funded by the Motor Accident Insurance Commission, will be delivered with the support of a number of organisations including Ipswich City Council, Bosch Australia and QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q).
CARRS-Q Deputy Director Professor Andry Rakotonirainy said CARRS-Q researchers would conduct a series of research studies to understand how drivers interact with new cooperative and automated functionalities on real roads.
“This is a first in Australia. CARRS-Q will also investigate how other road users, including vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists, interact or perceive automated cars,” Professor Rakotonirainy said.
“These studies will address fundamental issues such as trust, acceptability, willingness to use and safety of automated cars.”