Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology will stage a three-month, 1200-kilometre road trip to help assess how automated driving systems cope with lane markings, traffic lights and street signs as well as the limitations of GPS in areas where only a patchy signal is available.
The trip by the sensor-equipped Renault ZOE is part of the Queensland government’s Cooperative and Highly Automated Driving (CHAD) pilot and is supported by the iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre (iMOVE CRC).
“As researchers drive the car across Queensland, onboard sensors will build a virtual map to help refine AI-equipped vehicles to drive safely on our roads,” said the state’s transport and main roads minister, Mark Bailey.
“It’s early days yet, but artificial intelligence technology and smart road infrastructure have potential to transform the way we travel in Queensland and reduce road trauma.”
The car is fitted with the kinds of camera and LIDAR sensors designed for automated vehicles.
“As we drive, AI will watch and determine if it could perform the same as a human driver in all conditions,” said Professor Michael Milford from the QUT’s Australian Centre for Robotic Vision.
According to Milford, an early test of the system found that a paint spill could be mistaken for a lane marking by an automated driving system.
“Past studies, along with initial experiments conducted by QUT, show how automated cars have difficulties on rural roads which can lack lane markings,” Milford said.
“A motorist on a rural road knows to stick on the left or imagine there is a line in the middle of the road.
“People will also cross the imaginary line to go around obstacles, it’s quite difficult for an automated vehicle to do this.”
Queensland’s CAVI project comprises four components, of which CHAD is one. The other three are a cooperative and intelligent transport systems (C-ITS) pilot, a pilot examining how technology can help protect vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians, and a project examining change management at the Department of Transport and Main Roads to enable the use of emerging transport technologies.
Last year Queensland revealed that, along with the federal government, it had inked an agreement with Integrity Security Solutions (ISS) and the iMOVE CRC for the development of Australia’s first security credential management system — a key component for C-ITS.
As part of the C-ITS pilot, vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) applications will be tested in Ipswich. The two-phase pilot will begin this year and involve around 500 public and fleet vehicles, testing technologies such emergency braking warning, in-vehicle speed warning, and back-of-queue warning.