Friday, 22 June 2018 06:15

Hands-free driving: EastLink testing vehicle to infrastructure communications

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A vehicle with hands-free driving technology being tested. A vehicle with hands-free driving technology being tested. ARRB

Tollway operator EastLink has begun the second stage of its hands-free driving trials, and will test vehicle to infrastructure communications, after carrying out a number of trials to test technology that assists in hands-free driving.

Transceiver equipment that operates in the 5.9GHz frequency range has been installed at a toll point on the tollway and tests are being carried out to check whether there is any interference with the 5.8GHz dedicated short-range communications that are used for tolling.

EastLink corporate affairs and marketing manager Doug Spencer-Roy said after this was completed, the next tests would be on a range of potential messages between a freeway and a vehicle, "for example when there is an incident ahead or lane closed information. These tests will help us develop a strategy for the future implementation of infrastructure-vehicle communications".

"We expect that vehicles with built-in 5.9Ghz transceivers will become available for sale in Australia in the next few years," he said.

"These vehicles will be able to communicate with each other (e.g. to help avoid collisions or to assist with autonomous driving) as well as with appropriately equipped infrastructure."

EastLink has conducted hand-free driving trials on two  occasions in the past, following its third annual survey on self-driving vehicles, the results of which were released in October 2017.

Regarding the first-stage trials, Spencer-Roy said: "Among other findings, the trials demonstrated the importance of clear line markings to help vehicles 'see' the lanes of a freeway, and improve the effectiveness of some of the latest driver assistance functions such as lane keep assistance and lane departure warning."

He claimed that about 95% of accident were caused by human error and the latest driver assistance functions could help to reduce the likelihood of an accident.

Among the technologies that could help were said to be:

  • Blind spot warning;
  • Lane keep assistance;
  • Lane departure warning;
  • Dynamic cruise control; and
  • Autonomous emergency braking.

The trials have been conducted along with VicRoads, the Australian Road Research Board, La Trobe University and RACV.

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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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