In what can only be described as awkward timing – mere hours after a self-driving Uber accident in the US lead to the death of a pedestrian – the NSW Government has today revealed that the state's first automated vehicle trials have begun in Sydney.
The trial, which will still involve human supervisors and specifically seeks to test "the affects of driver assist technology", is set to last until October and follows the State’s earlier tests of an automated shuttle-bus service within Sydney Olympic Park. Luxury car manufacturers such as BMW, Lexus, Audi and Tesla are conducting the trials in partnership with the State Government and toll road operator Transurban.
The cars will be operating under a variety of different conditions and times, and in key areas such as Lane Cove Tunnel, M2 Motorway, Eastern Distributor, and the Harbour Bridge and Tunnel.
Precedence and prudence
A number of self-driving trials are already planned or underway across other Australian states, with Volvo trialling its tech on South Australian roads and the Western Australian Government offering Perth up for a trial on “robo-taxis”.
Despite the timing of the launch, State Roads Minister Melinda Pavey hopes that the automated tech will ultimately save lives and help reduce the NSW road accident death toll, which last year took 392 lives.