Following a AU$1.2 million investment, the Victorian government, in conjunction with the Transport Accident Commission and VicRoads, has partnered with automotive parts giant Bosch for the development of the first self-driving vehicle in Australia.
According to Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan, the vehicle under construction in Clayton, Victoria, has been designed to navigate roads with or without driver input and includes the ability to detect and avoid hazards such as pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles.
"By removing human error from the equation, self-driving vehicles will play a critical role in reducing deaths and serious injuries on Victorian roads," Donnellan said.
"This self-driving car is at the forefront of automated vehicle technology and it's been developed right here in Melbourne by local engineers."
The minister said trials of the self-driving vehicle will be used to inform the development of regulations and infrastructure to enable similar cars to operate on the state's roads in the future.
The trial will also help VicRoads better understand how motorists will use self-driving vehicles and the changes needed to prepare for the future; while traffic management experts and urban planners are expected to gain a better understanding of the need to reconfigure road networks and traffic signals if driverless vehicles are to soon cruise the streets.
In March, the South Australian government approved on-road trials of driverless cars on the state's roads after the state government and national independent road research agency ARRB Group successfully carried out the country's first driverless car trial on Adelaide's Southern Expressway.
The November trial involved two Volvo XC90 vehicles that demonstrated automatic lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, and active queue assist.
Following a test drive in the self-driving Tesla model S car, New South Wales Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts said earlier this year he intended to bring autonomous cars to the state, saying autonomous electric cars were the "future of driving" in NSW.
Australia's first driverless electric shuttle then hit the roads of Perth, Western Australia in August as part of an initial trial run by the Royal Automobile Club of WA (RAC) in partnership with the state government and vehicle manufacturer Navya.
The shuttle can carry up to 11 passengers and operates at an average speed of 25km per hour.