In a trial that started late last week, 50 rental cars travelling between Christchurch and Queenstown have been equipped with innovative New Zealand-developed technology that allows their drivers to hear alerts about road safety and road conditions received from roadside beacons.
The three-month technology trial was announced last week by New Zealand’s Transport Minister Simon Bridges, and has been installed on the popular driving route between Christchurch and Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island. Developed by Auckland-based HMI Technologies, the new system is called RouteTIP and is an innovative V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) technology uses Bluetooth beacons to relay simple and recognizable road safety and journey time information to drivers. The RouteTIP system is designed to be cost effective, simple to install as part of a network or as standalone devices, and to be capable of conveying hundreds of simple messages to keep drivers informed and improve road safety. In this trial, 60 key locations have been selected, and beacons at each location are capable of communicating to traffic approaching in either direction, giving HMI a further opportunity to test the system and gather feedback from a diverse range of drivers.
The concise audio messages conveyed by RouteTIP include journey time information, alerts about road conditions, potential hazards on the route ahead, such as school zones or pedestrian crossings, and also reminders to take driver rest breaks. The route where the trial takes place involves high mountain passes and stretches of rural roads that will prove the system’s ability to work in remote and challenging conditions. For HMI, the trial is an opportunity to further test the technology that it has been developing for the past two years and for which it is currently seeking patents.
The system has been tested in closed trials in both Christchurch and Melbourne, Australia, integrating with traffic management software and numerous sensors types, displaying a large number of images and audio messages. Following the trial, the RouteTIP system could be rolled out on other routes throughout New Zealand. HMI is also progressing development of the system to include multiple languages and integration with the latest vehicle infotainment systems, such as Google’s Android Auto.
“This is an exciting time for us, for although the RouteTIP system has already been tested in closed trials in urban environments in Christchurch, and more recently in Melbourne, this is the first time we will be receiving direct feedback from the public,” noted HMI’s CEO, Ahmed Hikmet. “This RouteTIP trial will run for three months, and by partnering with New Zealand rental car company GO Rentals, the trial will involve both New Zealanders and international drivers, who may be unfamiliar with New Zealand roads and driving conditions.”
Dean Zabrieszach, CEO of HMI in Australia, commented, “We’re not aware of anyone trialing this technology anywhere else, and it integrates with existing technologies, future proofing them, which is attractive to transport agencies across the world. We’re looking forward to showcasing it at the ITS World Congress in Melbourne in October.”