Australia’s first trial of driverless vehicles on a toll road in real traffic conditions is set to start later in August on toll road operator Transurban’s Melbourne network.
Transurban, which operates Melbourne’s CityLink and roads in Sydney, and Brisbane, will also trial driverless vehicles on its roads around Washington in the US.
Chief executive Scott Charlton says the automated vehicles will not be marked but will have a professional driver inside to take control if needed.
The trials will involve a range of automated vehicles operating in peak hour, non-peak times and under all conditions.
“We’ll be testing those (vehicles) in a real-world situation – how they interact with our road and how they interact with drivers,” Mr Charlton said.
“Over the next two decades, you’re going to have the interaction of autonomous vehicles and non-autonomous vehicles.
“So, how is that going to play out?”
Mr Charlton said the automated vehicles are fairly good at reading static signs but have more trouble with electronic LED signs and experience some difficulty in tunnels, where no horizon is visible.
My Charlton said the tests will take place over 18 months.
The trials will assess the driverless 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 is also trialling mobile GPS tolling technology on 1,000 motorists in Sydney in a bid to make the toll system easier to use and encourage use of toll roads.
The new technology involves a mobile phone app that can be used to track where a vehicle has travelled on toll roads.
The system then relays a message to the driver’s mobile phone outlining payment options.