French automated vehicles to be tested in QLD

Planning is now underway to test automated vehicles in Queensland, following the signing of an international agreement that will see the collaboration of Australian and French research institutes.

The state government is partnering with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre (iMOVE CRC) in a program that will explore the safety impacts of automated vehicles on roads.

State transport and main roads minister Mark Bailey spoke at the Australian Intelligent Transport Systems Summit in Sydney on Tuesday night, telling the audience that the on-road testing program would form part of the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ Cooperative and Highly Automated Driving (CHAD) Pilot.

“In early 2019, we will receive a Renault ZOE EV, a Society of Automotive Engineers Level Four automated vehicle purpose built in France for our CHAD pilot,” Bailey said.

Level Four automated vehicles do not require the driver to take action when the system is driving, allowing them to take back control if circumstances require it. Cooperative automated vehicles (CAVs) can also connect with other vehicles, infrastructure and road operations systems to share safety-related messages and warnings.

Bailey said that QUT’s partnership with VEDECOM, a French collaborative research centre, would see automated vehicles tested for safety in five main areas: roads, roadsides, vehicles, road users and speeds.

“This will be the fourth vehicle prototype built by VEDECOM. It will be both cooperative and able to operate in autonomous mode under certain conditions,” Bailey said.

“We’re doing this testing so we will be ready when vehicles with these capabilities are widely available for Queensland road users.”

The CHAD Pilot is part of the larger Cooperative and Automated Vehicle Initiative (CAVI) being undertaken by the state government, and will include Australia’s largest trial of Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems technologies.

Professor Andry Rakotonirainy from QUT said the CHAD pilot program would enable the university to develop new methods of testing the validity of automated vehicles, particularly in relation to ensuring their safe interaction with other road users and road infrastructure.

“Automated vehicles will disrupt our approach to mobility, as smartphones did to communication,” Rakotonirainy said.

“CAVs are an opportunity to increase mobility access for all, while improving road safety and congestion.”