One of Australia’s largest tollways, EastLink, has received a Special Commendation from ADVI – the Australia & New Zealand Driverless Vehicle Initiative – for the trials of automated vehicle technologies underway on EastLink.
The trials are being undertaken by EastLink in partnership with VicRoads, ARRB, La Trobe University and RACV, and with the assistance of major vehicle manufacturers.
With hands-free driving on freeways expected within the next few years (subject to legislative changes), these trials represent the only program in Australia that is producing real results for freeway operators and vehicle manufacturers to facilitate the safe and early introduction of this capability on EastLink and other Victorian freeways.
EastLink trials have already been conducted with vehicles provided by a range of manufacturers including BMW, Honda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi and Volvo. The most recent technology demonstration involved the new Tesla Model X. Additional manufacturers will shortly be providing vehicles to assist the program.
The trials have already assisted vehicle manufacturers and freeway operators by identifying opportunities to improve the compatibility between vehicles’ new technologies and some of the infrastructure on EastLink and other freeways. The vehicle manufacturers and freeway operators are now able to work on taking advantage of these opportunities, which will further improve vehicles’ Level.2 performance on EastLink and Victorian freeways, and pave the way for the safe introduction of Level.3 capability (descriptions of these levels are included later in this release).
Testing of vehicle connectivity (5.9 GHz and Cellular) is also included within the EastLink trials program, including both V2V (vehicle to vehicle) and V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) connectivity. Initial testing has been focused on verifying the compatibility of connected vehicle communications (5.9 GHz) with the existing DSRC tag to tolling point communications (5.8 GHz), prior to conducting on-road trials of different message types. EastLink is raising awareness of automated vehicle capabilities and communicating the progress of these trials with the public, for example via email newsletters (each to 360,000 EastLink customers), and by media engagement (with extensive coverage already achieved on TV, print, radio, industry and automotive news media). Increasing public awareness of these new technologies is one of the major objectives of the ADVI initiative.
“EastLink is delighted to be working with our partners VicRoads, ARRB, La Trobe University and RACV on these important trials of automated vehicle technologies on EastLink and other Victorian freeways,” says EastLink spokesperson Doug Spencer-Roy.
“The EastLink trials that are underway have already identified some real opportunities for vehicle manufacturers and freeway operators, including EastLink, to improve the compatibility of the latest driver-assistance technologies with Victorian freeways. Vehicles with advanced driver-assistance technology are now being released in Australia. Within the next few years, once legislative changes are made, we expect vehicle manufacturers will be able to activate hands-free driving capabilities on EastLink and other freeways. These trials are producing practical results that will assist with that transition to hands-free driving.”