‘Driverless’ cars in line call trials

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DRIVERLESS cars may face an old school hurdle to stay on the road — the clarity of roadside painted lines.

Semi-autonomous vehicles have been road tested along Eastlink since late last year and the trial results have found “good quality markings” on both sides of road lanes are needed to keep self-driving cars on the straight and narrow.

The trials involving “hands-off-the-wheel” cars were conducted by Eastlink Corp and VicRoads with the Australian Road Research Board, La Trobe University and the RACV.

Variable speed signs, increasingly used on freeways around Melbourne, also caused problems for some self-driving prototypes in the trial.

“Vehicles with advanced driver-assistance technology are now being released in Australia,” EastLink spokesman Doug Spencer-Roy said.

“Within the next few years, once legislative changes are made, we expect vehicle manufacturers will activate hands-off-the-wheel driving capabilities on EastLink and other suitable freeways.

“These EastLink trials are producing practical results that will assist with that transition to hands-off-the-wheel driving.”

Mr Spencer-Roy said all Eastlink road line markings from Mitcham and Ringwood to Frankston had been repainted, partly as a response to the automated vehicle technology tests.

Temporary yellow lines used near construction zones also caused some self-driving cars to lose track and steer out of road lanes.

The trial involved “partial automation” vehicles needing at least one of the driver’s hands must be on the steering wheel and “conditional automation” cars where all driving is automated but the driver can take back control at any time or when prompted by in-vehicle safety messages.

BMW, Honda, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi and Volvo supplied semi-autonomous vehicles for the trials on Eastlink.

Lexus and Tesla cars were also tested on Eastlink in recent weeks.

Eastlink is calling for other vehicle manufacturers to become involved in the trials with Audi and Toyota committed to providing cars for testing this year.

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 30 August 2017

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