Transurban to begin driverless vehicle trial on Melbourne toll roads

The 18-month trial will assess the vehicles' level of autonomy, how the roadside interacts with the vehicle, and levels of 'platooning'.

Another set of driverless vehicles trials are set to begin later this month, this time on Transurban's Melbourne network.

The trials, to take place over 18 months, will monitor how the vehicles interact with real-life road conditions such as overhead lane signals, electronic speed signs, and line markings. The vehicles will be tested in semi-autonomous mode during peak and non-peak periods, with drivers capable of taking the steering wheel if needed to prevent accidents.

The trials are aimed at assessing the vehicles' level of autonomy, how the roadside interacts with the vehicle and its position, and levels of "platooning" where the vehicles travel within a few centimetres of each other behind a lead vehicle.

Transurban CEO Scott Charlton said the vehicles are "fairly good" at reading static signs but have trouble with electronic LED signs. Charlton also said the vehicles experience some difficulty in tunnels, where no horizon is visible.

The toll road operator, which operates Melbourne's CityLink and roads in Sydney and Brisbane, will also trial driverless vehicles on its roads around Washington in the US.

This is not Transurban's first driverless vehicle trial; in December, the toll road operator said it would launch a two-year trial of autonomous vehicles on CityLink and the Monash and Tullamarine freeways in Victoria starting in March, though no progress updates have been provided as yet.

15. August 2017

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