Autonomous cars to be trialled on Victorian roads

Victorian tolling company Transurban will start trialling autonomous vehicles on state roads next year to better understand how the technology interacts with real world traffic.

Autonomous cars will begin travelling on CityLink and the Monash and Tullamarine freeways in Victoria, Australia next year.

Beginning in March, the trial will monitor how the cars interact with real-life road conditions such as overhead lane signals, electronic speed signs, and line markings.

The cars will also be trialled in semi-autonomous mode with drivers inside and capable of taking the steering wheel if needed to prevent accidents.

The trial is expected to take up to two years and will be managed by tolling company Transurban, CityLink's owner.

It's also expected that road users will need to wait at least 10 years before they can own a driverless car given the technology being tested is in its infancy.

Minister for Roads Luke Donnellan said the introduction of autonomous vehicles has the potential to remove human error and help Victoria achieve its Towards Zero vision -- a future free of road deaths and serious injuries.

VicRoads will consult with industry to seek feedback on the Labor government's Future Directions paper outlining the need for regulatory changes to allow testing of autonomous vehicles on Victorian roads.

The focus is on how to ensure road safety during testing on public roads, what constitutes as a driver "being in control", and understanding how the technology will interact with the state's transport system.

In October, a study by the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative found that seven in 10 Australians trust autonomous vehicles to take over when they feel tired, bored, or physically and mentally incapable of driving manually.

Almost half, 47 percent, of Australians surveyed felt self-driving vehicles would be safer than human drivers; while 82 percent recognised that such technology would provide greater mobility for people with physical impairments.

Earlier this year, South Australia became the first national jurisdiction to legalise the testing of driverless vehicles on its roads.

In October, the South Australian government announced that it would hand out AU$10 million in grants over the next three years to encourage the testing, research, and development of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies in the state.

The state is already home to autonomous vehicle manufacturers such as Cohda Wireless, SAGE Automation, and Sydac.

In August, RAC began trialling Australia's first driverless shuttle bus, developed by French company Navya SAS, along the foreshore in South Perth.

With AAP

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