Autonomous car to hit the road
Autonomous driving will become a reality in New Zealand in November when Tauranga hosts the country’s first official demonstration of how it all works.
A specially kitted-out Volvo will demonstrate the technology along a 15 km stretch of public road – with other vehicles also using the road.
It’s going to happen during the New Zealand Traffic Institute (Trafinz) conference, which will look at how New Zealand’s transportation industry is embracing and adapting to rapid and complex changes in urban centres and rural communities.
Trafinz, Volvo, the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Ministry of Transport have come together to demonstrate how an autonomous vehicle will handle New Zealand’s road conditions.
Volvo NZ national manager Coby Duggan says the vehicle will self-drive using sophisticated technology to navigate the road – with driver interaction only required at the halfway point of the trip.
Anders Eugensson, a visiting expert from Volvo’s Swedish headquarters, says the technology offers significant benefits for New Zealanders who commute daily or who are travelling between cities.
‘‘Our research shows around nine in every 10 crashes have a driver error component – and the reality is that self driving cars simply do not get distracted. We believe this technology will greatly reduce the number of collisions on New Zealand roads while also improving efficiency,’’ he says.
Eugensson says autonomous driving will also help reduce congestion on our roads and improve productivity by reducing the daily commute stresses for workers and intercity travellers.
Trafinz vice-president John Goettler says the technology has real applications for the future of transport within the New Zealand roading network.
‘‘This demonstration will be a significant first milestone towards the introduction of selfdrive vehicles to enhance road safety and productivity in New Zealand,’’ he says.
New Zealand is an ideal location for the demonstration because of its world-leading regulatory environment, which encourages trialling and demonstrations of new technology such as autonomous vehicles, while protecting the safety of all road users.
‘‘As the volume of these vehicles grows we also need to turn our attention to the creation of smart highways and motorways, to obtain the real benefits of safer, more efficient, people focused and less congested travel,’’ says Goettler.
The demonstration is expected to take place on November 18 once planning and approvals for NZTA regulatory requirements have been completed.
Working while driving – it will be possible than ks to self-driving vehicles.