Bosch to trial automated vehicle tech in country Victoria

The automotive parts giant was handed a AU$2.3 million grant to trial the technology.

The Victorian government has given approval to Bosch to test automated driving systems on the state's rural roads.

With a AU$2.3 million grant, awarded under the AU$9 million Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) Trial Grants Program, Bosch will be the first to use automated vehicles for testing and development on Victorian roads.

The state in September finalised regulations to support the new Automated Driving System (ADS) permit scheme, which authorises the operation of an automated vehicle.

With an ADS permit, parties can test the operation of the vehicle in automated mode, test the safety of automated capabilities, and assist the development of automated capabilities, enabling road authorities to also monitor and manage the use and impacts of automated vehicles on roads.

VicRoads in late 2017 called for expressions of interest from companies, industry bodies, and other transport technology organisations to apply for funding to spur the development of automated vehicle technology, specifically if it had the potential to reduce deaths and serious injuries on the state's roads.

It followed the AU$1.2 million investment made by Bosch and the Victorian government in 2016, in conjunction with the Transport Accident Commission and VicRoads, to develop the first self-driving vehicle in Australia.  

Bosch is currently developing its automated vehicle technology and will begin testing on high-speed rural roads later in 2019, Acting Premier Jacinta Allan said in a statement.

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

"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," Allan's statement explained.

Other recipients of the grant are expected to be announced soon.

"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," Allan claimed.

"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."

The AU$9 million grants program is funded under the state's AU$1.4 billion Towards Zero Action Plan, which also saw the government overhaul Victoria's road safety cameras after the WannaCry ransomware -- which claims to have hundreds of thousands of victims across 150 countries -- found itself on speed and red-light cameras on state roads in June 2017.

The federal government in October also announced it would be establishing an Office of Future Transport Technologies, charged with the responsibility of preparing for the arrival of automated vehicles.

The new office will work alongside state and territory counterparts, positioning itself in a leadership role, and making sure future transport technologies are implemented in a more successful and responsible way.

Specifically, the office is expected to ensure automated vehicles are safe, consider future infrastructure needs, make sure cybersecurity safeguards are in place, and to support Australian businesses in taking advantage of new commercial opportunities.

It hopes to ensure the regulatory settings are "workable" and nationally consistent, that they fit with emerging United Nations regulatory developments, and are consistent with related Commonwealth policies and laws, including those relating to privacy and data use.

Last week, South Australia launched a six month trail of a new autonomous bus and smart transit hub in Adelaide.

It followed the state previously approving on-road trials of driverless cars after the SA government and national independent road research agency ARRB Group successfully carried out the country's first driverless car trial on Adelaide's Southern Expressway.

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