CAV trials start in Melbourne
As Transurban began automated vehicle trials this week, I was keen to take this opportunity to discuss the developing R&D field of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) – and why, at Transurban, we’re so excited to be at the forefront of research in the realm of road safety. 

With human error contributing to over 90 per cent of crashes on Australian roads today, the potential CAV technology has to improve community safety is outstanding – and we can’t wait around to catch up to international standards.

The first phase of our trial commenced this month, and is design to improve our understanding of how CAVs interact with our existing motorway infrastructure. This will go on to inform international infrastructure and safety regulations as CAV technology is more widely adopted worldwide.

As an organisation, we’ll also be looking to identify the changes we may ultimately make to our assets, operations and customer interactions.

During this initial phase, we’ll be monitoring level two automated vehicles – cars with the capability to control speed and steering in some circumstances. These vehicles – models from BMW, Mercedes, Tesla and Volvo – are already available on the Australian market and meet all Australian road-worthy and safety requirements. These are not the autonomous self-driving vehicles I had the opportunity to try last October.

So what exactly are these cars capable of? What does “level two automation” mean?

CAVs are categorised on an internationally-recognised six-point scale (0-5) that identifies the extent of their automated capabilities. In the case of level two, that’s “integrated computer control of speed and steering”.

More specifically, it incorporates functionality such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, traffic jam assist and autonomous emergency braking. These functions contribute to improved safety ­– as well as more economic driving.

Phase one of this project will run from August to November this year, during selected weeks, in both live traffic and closed-road conditions (with minimal disruption to road users).  Phases two and three are set to get underway in 2018.

The opportunity to develop relationships with these manufacturers is an exciting one. The results of our trials will help us to understand how to best prepare for the significant increase in vehicles with these types of features that we expect to see on our roads in the coming years, and how we should cater to automated driving.  

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