The Victorian Government is working with the Australian Road Research Board in conjunction with La Trobe University and EastLink to test cars with driver-assistance technology on the motorway as part of an 18-month trial.
The first of its kind research project will assess the use of semi-autonomous cars with safety features such as lane keep assist, auto braking and adaptive cruise control.
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.
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.
Recently, a Volvo S90 was the first vehicle to be trialled on EastLink.
Following the research, EastLink will work with car manufacturers and VicRoads to ensure that vehicle technology and road infrastructure allows for the safe introduction of hands free driving.
The Victorian Government is already developing the necessary legislative changes.
The EastLink trial builds on the recent announcement by the Victorian Government of public consultation now underway on the Future Directions Paper, which will inform Victoria’s future policies on automated vehicles and the start of hands-free driving trials on Victorian roads next year.
The EastLink trial has received $578,000 funding from the VicRoads Intelligent Transport System (ITS) Grants Program.
Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan said, "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. 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."
EastLink spokesperson Doug Spencer-Roy said, "Vehicles with advanced driver-assistance technology are now being released in Australia. Within the next few years, once legislative changes are made, we expect vehicle manufacturers to activate hands-free driving on EastLink and other freeways.”
"The EastLink trials that have recently started will identify the changes that can be made to freeway infrastructure and operations to help the new driver-assistance technology make a safe transition to hands-free driving on freeways," he continued.
"EastLink is already the safest freeway in Melbourne with the least congestion, but we are not complacent. That is why we are already working with our trial partners to help smooth the introduction of new technology that will further improve road safety and traffic flow."
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