Two Volvo XC90 vehicles went for an autonomous drive on Adelaide's Southern Expressway this past Saturday morning, as part of the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI), coordinated by the national independent road research agency, ARRB Group. The two cars demonstrated automatic lane keeping, adaptive cruise control and active queue assist.
The demonstration, according to AARB Group, marks the first in a series of national research and field trials to identify and assess what needs to be done to make driverless cars appropriate in an Australian context, placing particular emphasis on human factors that are often encountered behind the wheel.
South Australian Premier Ian Weatherill was a passenger in one of the vehicles.
"I could tell the technology has provided a complete controlled and safe environment so I didn't have any concerns at all," Weatherill said. "In fact, it's interesting how quickly you get used to the notion that the car is really just driving itself. At any time you can grab control of the car, so it's not as if something goes catastrophically wrong you can't get hold of the car and get back control again; there are lots of redundancies built into the technology to make sure it remains safe."
Weatherill went on to remark that the critical issue when it comes to the future of driverless vehicles is safety.
"There are just so many people that are getting killed and maimed on our roads, if we can find a way of reducing that, that's obviously a great thing for our community," he said. "I think we're looking at the future, and I think the way people should look at this is an opportunity for South Australia to be a leader and create the jobs and opportunities of the future. We are encouraging the development of a new technology which not only promises to improve safety and lower emissions, but also offers countless opportunities for the South Australian economy. This industry has the potential to revolutionize transport in Australia."