First automated vehicle to hit the road in Victoria

Automated vehicle technology will be tested in rural Victoria in 2019 in the first on-road trial approved under the new Automated Driving System (ADS) permit scheme.

On January 21, Acting Premier Jacinta Allan announced that Bosch has been awarded $2.3 million from the Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) trial grants program and granted the state’s first ADS permit for on-road testing of highly automated driving systems.

“Victoria is leading the nation in the future of on-road technology and this trial is an exciting step towards driverless vehicles hitting the road.

“The tragic fact is that you’re five times as likely to be killed on a rural road than in the city.

“That’s why we’re rolling out a record roads investment in rural Victoria – and this is another way we can improve safety and save lives,” Mr Allan said.

In 2018, Victoria finalised regulations to support the ADS permit scheme, which authorises the use of automated vehicles for testing and development on Australian roads.

Bosch is currently developing its automated vehicle technology and will begin testing on high-speed rural roads later in 2019.

The aim of the Bosch trial is to use the technology to improve safety on rural Victorian roads – where drivers are five times as likely to be killed in a crash than in metropolitan areas.

Bosch Australia president Gavin Smith said the company is eager to start this trial with technologies that will show how road safety can be improved and how road trauma on rural roads can be reduced.

The testing will be conducted on roads that expose the automated vehicle to a range of different conditions including traffic, weather and infrastructure.

In late 2017, VicRoads called for expressions of interest from companies, industry bodies and other transport technology organisations to apply for funding to spur the development of these emerging technologies. which will lead to reduced deaths and serious injuries.

Other successful applicants will be announced soon.

The trials will support Victoria’s readiness for CAV technologies and the knowledge gained will provide a better understanding of the infrastructure required to get these vehicles on the road, maximising their safety benefits.

Advanced Safety Truck Concept to help understand fatigue

By mid-2019 the National Road Transport Association expects it will be able to inform the proposed review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law for an overdue reform of fatigue laws it announced last week.

Results from current monitoring technology and how best to alert commercial vehicle operators are likely to become available by then as the industry body looks to accelerate the uptake of proven vehicle safety technologies.

Although the influence of fatigue as a factor in reported road crashes is still largely unknown current estimates, according to NatRoad, indicate that eight to 20 per cent of all crashes are fatigue-related.

In order to refine current fatigue monitoring systems to accurately predict fatigue events, further study is required of fatigue metrics like body responses, breath rate, posture and eye movement – if industry and government bodies are serious about achieving a vision of zero road deaths.

The Advanced Safe Truck Concept (ASTC) project, supported by the Cooperative Research Centre Projects funding scheme, will bring together technology, research and operational expertise to develop innovative driver state sensing concept for use in commercial vehicles.

The Australian Government Funded Cooperative Research Centre Programme Research is conducting data gathering and research for the project in collaboration with an ASTC consortium involving Seeing Machines and Monash University, among others.

Drivers are providing data to the Monash University Accident Research Centre from real world operational environments.

Ten trucks have been fitted with a new sensing platform where data has been collected over a six-month period. This is estimated to generate over 30,000 hours of real-world data that is critical for technology development.

“This is a significant research effort to develop enhanced technology to measure and predict driver states in real-time, using Seeing Machines’ driver monitoring technology as the core sensing means,” said NatRoad in an online statement.

“The aim is to link driver monitoring systems to events happening outside of the cab (forward-facing) and link this monitoring to other technologies available in heavy vehicles.”

“A further aspect is the ultimate aim of all heavy vehicles having in situ technology that records location so that it detects road conditions and important safety variables such as speed limits, lane widths, forward merging points, as well as inputs on congestion and incidents.”

“In some ways, these technologies all exist now, but are not linked.”