Monday, 04 December 2017 11:24

EastLink carries out hands-free driving trial in tunnels Featured

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The Honda Civic VTi-LX set to begin a hands-free run through a tunnel on EastLink. The Honda Civic VTi-LX set to begin a hands-free run through a tunnel on EastLink. EastLink

EastLink has conducted its first trial of hands-free driving through freeway tunnels using the lane keep assist function on the Honda Civic VTi-LX.

The trial was carried out at night on 18 November and footage will be broadcast on the Channel 7 news at 6pm AEST.

Hands-free driving is not allowed on roads in Victoria and hence the trial could only be run at a time when the tunnels were closed.

A statement from EastLink said the trial was carried out to help motorists "gain a better understanding of lane keep assist and other driver assistance functions".

EastLink corporate affairs and marketing manager Doug Spencer-Roy explained: "The demonstration resulted from the Annual Victorian Self-Driving Vehicle Survey conducted recently by EastLink, in which more than half of the 15,000 respondents rated their awareness of self-driving cars as ‘very little’ or ‘none’.

“EastLink wants to help motorists gain a better understanding of the latest driver assistance functions, and how they will evolve to make self-driving cars possible in the future.

“With driver assistance functions such as lane keep assist expected to improve road safety significantly, we hope that the demonstration encourages motorists to consider the availability of these new vehicle capabilities when choosing their next car."

EastLink said it selected the Honda Civic VTi-LX for the demonstration after the car was put through trials of the latest automated vehicle technologies undertaken this year by EastLink in partnership with VicRoads, the Australian Road Research Board, La Trobe University and RACV.

hands free two big

The Honda Civic VTi-LX at a toll point on the freeway.

Spencer-Roy said: "The Honda Civic steered itself using lane keep assist mode along EastLink and through the EastLink tunnels at speeds up to 80kmph, while the driver was not holding the steering wheel.

“The Honda Civic lane keep assist function was not affected by changing light conditions during the demonstration, such as the transitions into and out of each tunnel portal.

“The demonstration showed that driver assistance functions in cars are rapidly increasing in quality and availability, which is paving the way for motorists to experience hands-free driving on freeways in the coming years (subject to legislative changes)."

Photos: courtesy EastLink

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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