Queensland government and QUT to embark on 'AI car' road trip

It is expected the road trip will help the state government build a virtual map to make it safer for artificial intelligence-equipped vehicles to be on roads.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researchers, alongside the Queensland government, will trial an electric car fitted with artificial intelligence (AI) sensors and computers for a three-month long, 1,200km road trip around the state.

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The trial will use a zero-emissions Renault Zoe vehicle, in a move that Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Baily said aims to map out Queensland road networks for future vehicle technologies.

"As researchers drive the car across Queensland, onboard sensors will build a virtual map to help refine AI-equipped vehicles to drive safely on our roads."

According to QUT Australian Centre for Robotic Vision professor Michael Milford, the challenge that needs overcoming will be to ensure automated vehicles are able to drive as well as people, noting that early tests where there was a paint spill on the road had confused the self-driving AI system. 

"Past studies, along with initial experiments conducted by QUT, show how automated cars have difficulties on rural roads which can lack lane markings," Milford said.

The trial will specifically focus on improving self-driving AI systems to better react to situations with lane markings, traffic lights, street signage, and locations with limited GPS coverage such as built-up areas or tunnels.

It is part of the state government's Cooperative and High Automated Pilot and is intended to prepare Australian roads for the arrival of cooperative automated vehicles.

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(Image: Queensland Government)

Victorian police launches ANPR tech to catch illegal drivers

Drivers in Victoria will need to be on their heels as the police is launching its first car with an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system next week.

It will be the first ANPR-embedded car to be released in the state.

The car will begin patrolling the Bendigo area on February 21, and is the first of 221 ANPR vehicles to be rolled out across the state over the next two years.

ANPR will allow police to detect drivers who are suspended, disqualified, or unlicensed, as well as unregistered and stolen vehicles, and stolen number plates, the Victorian police said in statement on Wednesday.

The Victorian Police Force had announced it would implement the new ANPR systems in October, engaging Motorola Solutions to help install the systems into police cars across the state.

The tech falls under the Victorian government's Towards Zero initiative, aimed at making roads safer to reach the goal of zero deaths on roads in the state.

With this new capability, police will have a much easier time detecting and removing people who should not be on the roads, Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane said.

"A study of fatal collisions in 2016 found that unauthorised drivers were at fault in 16 percent of them.

"The system will allow us to scan around 5000 number plates per shift, which is a huge increase on what our officers are able to do manually," he added.

The Northern Territory Police began fitting out its vehicles ANPR technology in 2011.

Meanwhile, the New South Wales government deployed cameras capable of catching illegal phone usage in December.

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