A collaboration between the Victorian Government, the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB), LaTrobe University and Eastlink operator ConnectEast will see autonomous driving tests conducted on Melbourne’s Eastlink motorway over the next 18 months.
The project’s goal is to prepare the tollway’s communications and monitoring infrastructure for the arrival (and legalisation) of advanced ‘level 3’ self-driving vehicles. While any move towards autonomous driving is welcomed, the world is quickly racing towards level 4 autonomy, which would mean any results here could quickly be made redundant.
At CES and NAIAS we seen plenty of examples where almost every auto manufacturer is heading towards 2020/2021 as the timeline for shipping a full autonomous, level-4 capable car. This means walking into a dealer and having the car drive you home without requiring steering, acceleration or braking input from a human.
The Vehicle-to-infrastructure technology in this trial could allow your car to automatically adjust to a dynamic speed limit via secure wireless communication, which would avoid the need to read, interpret and implement speed changes from visual recognition systems. The problem for the trial is that this technology already exists and reading signs, along with the lane markings on the road is a problem that’s already been solved.
What could be interesting is the connectivity in your car (eventually 5G sim card) could potentially eliminate separate tollway devices. With your car and driver’s unique IDs being tied to account, that account could be billed for distance traveled along a tollway.
EastLink spokesperson Doug Spencer-Roy said,
“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 to activate hands-free driving on EastLink and other freeways.”
This Andrews Government is chipping in $578,000 in the form of a grant as part of the from the VicRoads Intelligent Transport System (ITS) Grants Program.
A more controversial implementation of VTI would be to integrate with EastLink’s advertisement network, dynamically changing adverts based on who is travelling down the roadway. A visit to the Eastlink website’s FAQ section, promotes the benefits to advertisers of a roadway that carries around 250,000 vehicles each day, typically comprising of 200,000 cars and 50,000 commercial vehicles. Right now their advertised to with dumb billboards, but in an ever increasingly competitive advertising market, having the ability to target users based on their vehicle ID and even driver ID would be possible.