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Autonomous vehicles on Australian roads by 2020: Volvo

Volvo Australia boss, Kevin McCann, believes if Australian traffic laws are changed that vehicles with autonomous drive features could be on Aussie roads by 2020.

SPEAKING ON THE EVE of the first trial in Australia of an autonomous-driven Volvo in Adelaide, Volvo Australia managing director, Kevin McCann, says that if traffic laws are changed then such vehicles will be on our roads by 2020. Adelaide has been host to a two-day conference with international and local experts discussing developments in autonomous drive features; Adelaide is hoping to position itself as a technology hub in the wake of automotive industry closing down.

“As the Adelaide trial will demonstrate, autonomous drive technology is here now. There will be roads where the technology is applicable and the autonomous features of the car can work effectively, for example on sections of the F3 freeway in NSW, and the Western Freeway in Victoria.   

“I am confident that within 3 or 4 years we can have cars with autonomous drive features being driven on prescribed roads if state governments change their laws to accommodate them. Currently there are legal restrictions which require the driver to be fully in control of the car at all times,” he said.

“If the laws are changed we are ready to bring autonomous driven cars to the Australian market.”

The Volvo XC90 being used in the Adelaide trial has autonomous drive technology like automatic lane keeping, adaptive cruise control and queue assist. The car can sense what is going on around it in traffic, and react accordingly.  It can also interact with other cars which do not have autonomous drive technology.

“All our states and territories are focused on improving road safety.” said Mr McCann. 

“Autonomous drive technologies actually make driving safer by reducing the number of decisions the driver has to make.”    

As you read this, Volvo and a host of boffins and Government policy makers are preparing for passenger rides in a Volvo XC90 with autonomous drive features on Adelaide’s Southern Expressway, which will be closed for the demonstration. The car will be driven at speeds of up to 70km/h and will be followed by  a ‘pace car’ (standard vehicle) to simulate how the autonomous vehicle technology interacts with other road users and adapts to changing conditions.

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober