New Zealand gets ready for driverless cars

Country's lead transport agency commissions a study into readiness for automated connected vehicles.
Written by Rob O'Neill, Contributor

The New Zealand Transport Agency is preparing to test the country's readiness for automated connected vehicles, a category that includes driverless cars.

Google's self-driving car.
Image: Google
The agency is commissioning a study of the country's technical readiness for the deployment of level 3 and 4 automated vehicles, including the state of digital mapping and networks required to enable operation.

Level 3 vehicles enable the driver to cede full control of the vehicle under certain traffic or environmental conditions and to rely heavily on the vehicle to monitor for changes requiring transition back to driver control.

The Google car is an example of such limited self-driving automation.

Level 4 automation anticipates the driver will provide destination or navigation input, but is not expected to be available for control at any time. In other words, the vehicle can be unoccupied.

"Advances in sensing, communication and computing technology are revolutionising the design and operation of motor vehicles," NZTA says in a tender document.

"Vehicle operation and functions are becoming increasingly automated and connected. Highly automated and connected vehicles are being tested internationally and we want to investigate New Zealand's technical readiness for their deployment here."

The Ministry of Transport and NZ Transport Agency are exploring both the policy and operational issues raised by automated vehicles, it says.

Automated and connected vehicles rely on a combination of mapping, sensor and communication technologies, including global navigation satellite systems, radar, stereo cameras, lidar, cellular and direct short range communication.

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