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Telstra completes 4G vehicle connectivity trial

Telstra has successfully connected a vehicle with infrastructure via its 4G network in South Australia, with future applications to allow cars to communicate with traffic lights and other road users.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Telstra has announced completing a successful trial of vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology over its 4G network, conducted in South Australia in partnership with Cohda Wireless.

Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology will allow vehicles to communicate with traffic lights, other vehicles, and pedestrians in future, according to Telstra, as well as the development of safe autonomous vehicles.

"While there has been a lot of focus around future transport technology, there has not been much work done to date in Australia on supporting intelligent transport systems via existing 4G mobile networks," Telstra's director of Technology Andrew Scott said.

"The trial we just completed in South Australia confirms that 4G can support V2I applications. These applications included alerting a driver to roadworks ahead, giving green light priority to high-priority vehicles, and testing optimal green light timing, where the vehicle is informed of the optimal speed to approach a traffic light so that that they get a green light when they arrive, therefore allowing a more continuous flow of traffic."

Scott also flagged Telstra's upcoming vehicle-to-vulnerable -- pedestrians and cyclists -- and vehicle-to-vehicle trials with Cohda Wireless over the next few months.

"We are particularly excited about the upcoming vehicle-to-vulnerable testing, as we will be able to showcase the Australian-first sending of standardised intelligent transport systems messages over the 4G network to enable interaction of vehicles with smartphone-equipped bicycles," he said.

Telstra, Cohda Wireless, and the South Australia Department of Planning, Transport, and Infrastructure are members of the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative, which aims to research and develop policy, regulation, and processes for adopting driverless vehicles.

South Australian Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Stephen Mullighan said the state will be a "key player" in the vehicle-connectivity industry, after having approved driverless car trials in March this year.

"By leading efforts to accommodate driverless and autonomous technologies on SA roads, we are pursuing the safety, productivity, and mobility benefits of these technologies, as well as new opportunities for our businesses and our economy," Mullighan said.

"Last year, we hosted the first on-road trials of autonomous vehicles in the Southern Hemisphere and this year we became the first Australian jurisdiction to legislate to allow further on-road trials.

"Our government is striving to create an environment which nurtures companies developing autonomous technologies, including Telstra and Cohda Wireless, and this exciting initiative demonstrates the progress South Australia is making to take a share of this projected $90 billion industry."

Companies are permitted in South Australia to trial autonomous vehicles by simply submitting their plans and insurance information to the government.

In November 2015, the South Australian government completed Australia's first driverless car trial on Adelaide's Southern Expressway in partnership with national independent road research agency ARRB Group.

The government's trial made use of two Volvo XC90 vehicles that successfully demonstrated adaptive cruise control, automatic lane keeping, and active queue assist.

The ARRB Group announced the trial in South Australia last July, adding at the time that it was in negotiations with other state governments to run similar trials.

"Driverless cars have a range of benefits that could significantly improve road safety and the quality of life of everyday Australians, add to the nation's economic competitiveness, and help relieve rapidly growing congestion that is crippling our infrastructure and creating productivity deficits in our capital cities," ARRB Group managing director Gerard Waldron said in July 2015.

Western Australia also tested a driverless and fully electric shuttle bus in Perth in August, with the RAC Intellibus carrying up to 11 passengers at an average speed of 25km per hour along South Perth Esplanade between the Old Mill, near the Narrows Bridge, and Sir James Mitchell Park.

"We anticipate this first step in exploring driverless technology will start a conversation on further trials, research, and collaboration, which will increase WA's understanding of how driverless vehicles can integrate into our transport system," RAC group CEO Terry Agnew said.

"The trial will help WA develop a road map of changes that will need to occur for driverless vehicles to safely transition on to our roads and become an integrated part of our transport system."

Earlier this year, New South Wales Minister for Industry, Resources, and Energy Anthony Roberts also said he intends to bring autonomous cars to the state, calling driverless electric cars the "future of driving".

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