Aussie-made autonomous car is “10 years ahead”

The first autonomous car to be made in Australia has been unveiled in Victoria this week. Using the shell of a Tesla Model S with electronic components from Bosch, the manufacturers claim the car is 10 years ahead of other autonomous cars on the market.

The car was developed in collaboration with VicRoads, the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) and Bosch engineers. It will serve as part of an “intelligence-gathering” project, aiming to set foundations for the regulation and infrastructure necessary for Australia to be prepared for autonomous vehicles. This could enable the deployment of cars such as Audi’s new A8 to the Australian market in the next few years.

Australia’s first autonomous car is equivalent to a level 4 autonomous vehicle; the autonomous system does not require human attention and can control the vehicle in all but a few environments. This is the last step before reaching full autonomy.

“This self-driving vehicle is at the forefront of automated vehicle technology and it’s been developed right here in Melbourne by local engineers,” said Victoria’s Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan.

“This one … is the most advanced, incorporating some very sophisticated human machine interface, which allows the car to detect which driver is in the passenger seat and change the configuration of it to suit that driver and their preferences,” Bosch Australia president Gavin Smith told the ABC.

The car’s autonomous system is comprised of six radar sensors, six LiDAR sensors, high resolution GPS, and a stereo video camera, among other components. It utilises the inbuilt sensors to detect and avoid hazards such as pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles. It also utilises the video camera to monitor the driver for errors such as fatigue and sleep.

According to Smith, five cars have been made and they will be on roads for testing next week.