Semi-autonomous cars to be tested on Melbourne’s tolled Eastlink motorway

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Melbourne’s tolled Eastlink motorway will be the testing ground for a semi-autonomous driving technology that could result in reduced congestion and increased road safety.

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The news come just two months after Bosch Australia demonstrated and road tested its Australian engineered automated vehicle at the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress, which was held in Melbourne in October.

The 18-month trial, which will be carried out in collaboration between the Victorian Government, the Australian Road Research Board and La Trobe University, will assess the use of semi-autonomous cars with safety features such as lane keep assist, auto braking and adaptive cruise control.

Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan said the testing will be conducted in traffic on EastLink to assess whether the latest technology is compatible with current infrastructure such as road signs and line markings.

He said the trial will test a wide range of cars fitted with semi-autonomous driver-assistance technology that require the driver’s hands on the wheel and are already being sold in Australia.

“We’re working with Australia’s top road researchers and road operators to ensure we’re at the forefront of this technology to reduce congestion and increase road safety,” the Minister remarked.

Following the research, ConnectEast will work with car manufacturers and VicRoads to ensure that vehicle technology and road infrastructure allows for the safe introduction of hands free driving.

“This trial will pave the way for EastLink to support vehicle manufacturers activating the technology so commuters can enjoy all the benefits of safe hands-free driving,” Mr Donnellan added.

The ConnectEast trial has been supported with $578,000 in funding from the VicRoads Intelligent Transport System (ITS) Grants Program.