Australia’s first self-driving car to be shown at ITS World Congress


The first vehicle developed in Australia with self-driving capabilities will be one of the centerpieces of this week’s 23rd Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress, which is taking place in the state of Victoria’s capital, Melbourne.

The State Government of Victoria has partnered with Bosch, the Transport Accident Commission and VicRoads to build the self-driving vehicle, which will be shown alongside the latest transport technology from around the world. The state government’s A$1.2m (US$906,700) investment has helped Bosch develop the self-driving vehicle over a 12 month period at its Australian headquarters in Melbourne suburb Clayton.

The SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicle (below), which is based on a Tesla Model S sedan, has been designed to navigate roads with or without driver input and includes technology to detect and avoid hazards, such as pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles.

Trials of the vehicle will be used to inform the development of regulations and infrastructure to enable similar self-driving cars to operate on Victoria’s roads when they become commercially available in the future. The trial will also help VicRoads better understand how motorists use self-driving vehicles and the changes needed to prepare for the future. Traffic management experts and urban planners will also get a better understanding of the need to reconfigure road networks and traffic signals to optimize safety and the flow of vehicles across the network.

Victoria is leading the way in this new technology, with the vehicle able to gather information from inbuilt sensors and cameras to build a complete picture of what is on and around the road in order to navigate safely. The state government considers that self-driving vehicles be an important step to reducing road trauma, with 90% of crashes currently resulting from human error.

The introduction of highly automated vehicles has the potential to help Victoria achieve its Towards Zero vision – a future free of deaths and serious injuries on the state’s roads. Victorian investment in the development of self-driving and highly-automated vehicle technologies is critical to the future of high technology and vehicle component manufacturing jobs in the state.

Inspecting the new vehicle and meeting with the Melbourne-based Bosch engineers who have been developing the car, Victoria’s Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan (above), said, “By removing human error from the equation, self-driving vehicles will play a critical role in reducing deaths and serious injuries on Victorian roads. 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 Andrews Labor Government is investing in innovative technology and emerging industries that will generate local jobs for the future.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).