Victoria to trial automated vehicles in partnership with Telstra and Lexus

On-road testing will get underway on metropolitan and regional roads soon.

Victoria to trial automated vehicles in partnership with Telstra and Lexus On-road testing will get underway on metropolitan and regional roads soon.

The Victorian government on Monday announced a trial of its connected and automated vehicle technology, with Minister for Roads Jaala Pulford saying the on-road testing will soon be underway.

A statement from Pulford said the trial will see the use of "advanced technology" to connect vehicles directly, as well as optimised 4G mobile networks to connect vehicles to one another and to traffic management centres with cloud servers using "Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X)" tech.

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According to a blog post by Telstra chief technology officer Hakan Eriksson, "C-V2X is technology that lets cars talk to each other, and the environment around them, via 4G mobile networks, and via direct short-range wireless links".

See also: Uber Air flying taxi service to be trialled in Melbourne

The project is researching cars fitted with this technology under controlled conditions and is testing several road safety features including Red-light Violator Warnings and Pedestrian Alert Right-Turn Assist, Pulford explained.

The project is a partnership led by Telstra and Lexus Australia and is funded by a AU$3.5 million grant from the government's Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) Trial Grants Program.

The government, alongside Lexus and Telstra, announced in December it was testing concept technology on controlled tracks.

Previous trials in Australia of car safety communication technologies had only used Wi-Fi 802.11p for short range communications.

The trial made use of short range 5.9 GHz radios based on advanced 4G cellular V2X technology, and the government said the tech in use has a pathway and compatibility to future 5G solutions.

Following the trials, Pulford on Monday said on-road testing will soon begin on metropolitan and regional roads to help shape how this technology could be fitted to vehicles in the future.

"We're trialling cutting-edge technology like this to make our roads safer into the future," she said.  "Victoria leading the nation in connected and automated vehicles -- this technology will be critical in making roads safer not only here but across Australia."

Earlier this year, the Victorian government gave 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 CAV Trial Grants Program, Bosch was the first to use automated vehicles for testing and development on Victorian roads.

See also: Committee concerned Australia's reactive attitude could see it fall behind with autonomous transport  

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.

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.

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