No bloody Volvo driver: Australia is trialling a driverless car

The new Volvo XC90 will be released in Australia soon.

A driverless car will be trialled in Australia for the first time later this year using the new Volvo XC90.

The South Australia government announced demonstration trials will take place on November 7-8, coinciding with a Driverless Vehicle Conference.

Volvo is supplying its next generation SUV with what it calls “intellisafe assist” for the trial. The company hopes to have more than 100 driverless — also known as autonomous — cars on the road in Sweden by 2017.

The XC90 will operate hands-free in a controlled environment. One of the company’s top international safety experts, Dr Trent Victor, is a keynote speaker at the conference and will assist with the trials, which will take place at Adelaide Airport and Southern Expressway in controlled environments.

ARRB Group, the 55-year-old road safety research agency, is backing the trial along with
Telstra, Flinders University and the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA).

ARRB group managing director Gerard Waldron said the company wants to explore what driverless technology needs to be for Australian driving conditions and behaviour and what it might mean for Australia’s national road infrastructure.

“The trials in South Australia this November will be the first of many trials nationally, with discussions underway in a number of jurisdictions. We’re seeking technology and automotive industry partners to assist us in Australia’s driverless vehicle innovation,” he said.

“The advent of driverless cars is an opportunity to foster technological innovation and revive Australia’s manufacturing industry – the South Australian Government has been quick to recognise this.”

Volvo Australia managing director Kevin McCann said the technnology will still deliver a range of benefits, even with a human behind the wheel, including improved traffic safety and fuel economy, plus reduced congestion and will lead to a rethink in infrastructure planning.

Penny Gale, RAA public affairs general manager, said that by 2020 all cars coming off the production line will have some ability to drive themselves.

“This type of technology has the potential to be a real win for road safety and mobility. Removing the need for a driver will open up a whole new transport opportunity for many of our members, particularly people with disabilities and the elderly. While removing the reliance on human behaviour will undoubtedly save lives,” she said.

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