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Driverless cars hit the road in Adelaide

ARRB has given Australians a glimpse of modern motoring as driverless cars hit Australian roads for the very first time in Adelaide last weekend.

ARRB has given Australians a glimpse of modern motoring as driverless cars hit Australian roads for the very first time in Adelaide last weekend. ARRB, the nation’s leading authority in road research and technology, gave Australians a glimpse of modern motoring as driverless cars hit Australian roads for the very first time in Adelaide in November.

ARRB Group Managing Director Gerard Waldron, described the milestone demonstration in a statement as a major turning point for the evolution of driverless car technology in Australia, and said the organisation is proud to be spearheading the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative.

“This demonstration marks the first of a series of research and field trials nationally to identify and assess what needs to be done to make driverless cars appropriate in an Australian context, with particular emphasis on those human factors that are often encountered behind the wheel,” he said.

The demonstrations were the first to have occurred anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere, and were successfully conducted on a closed, controlled section of Adelaide’s Southern Expressway.

“We brought together a range of industry, government and academic partners from around the world and closer to home, and particularly appreciate the efforts and involvement of the South Australian Government and Volvo to make this happen,” Mr Waldron said.

Ministers and media from across Australia were among a handful of people to be the first to travel in a driverless Volvo XC90, which demonstrated automatic lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, and active queue assist under the supervision of a trained Volvo operator.

The vehicles travelled at speeds of up to 70 kilometres-per-hour and the addition of a ‘pace car’ (standard vehicle) to simulate traffic showed first-hand how the driverless vehicle technology interacts with other road users and adapts to changing conditions.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill also said in the statement that South Australia was taking the lead nationally and internationally by embracing driverless car technology.

“We are encouraging the development of a new technology which not only promises to improve safety and lower emissions, but also offers countless opportunities for the South Australian economy,” he said.

“This industry has the potential to revolutionise transport in Australia.

“We want to be at the forefront of this paradigm shift towards an industry which is anticipated to be worth more than $90 billion globally by 2030.”

“The demonstration marks the beginning of a long and important process,” continued Mr. Waldron. “With European researchers having a roadmap for the introduction of driverless vehicles by 2020, Australia needs to keep pace. Legislation urgently needs to be amended, like it has been in South Australia.

“It is also vitally important we educate Australian road users on the benefits driverless technology will bring to their lifestyles, to their safety, and in relieving congestion issues on our roads,” he said.

Image: Volvo Professor Trent Viktor. (Courtesy of ARRB)

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