Connected vehicle trial hits Victorian roads in Australian first


The Victorian Government has launched Australia’s first on-road connected vehicle trial, joining Telstra, Lexus, and the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) in a $3.5 million multi-year project aimed at lowering road fatalities.

The project, known as Advanced Connected Vehicles Victoria (ACV2), will leverage artificial intelligence to monitor VicRoad’s traffic camera system and identify potential hazards, transmitting real-time notifications to a vehicle’s dashboard over Telstra’s 4G mobile network.

The government-backed trial will see two Lexus RX 450h F Sport SUVs connected directly to each other as well as to cloud-based traffic management centres, while safety systems – including emergency braking alerts, speed limit compliance warnings, right-turn assist for vulnerable drivers, and alerts of nearby vehicles that are likely to run a red light – undergo testing.

“Technology already plays a pivotal role in road safety and that is only going to increase over time – that’s why it is important we continue exploring the lifesaving potential of connected and automated vehicle technologies,” said Samantha Cockfield, TAC Director Road Safety.

According to Telstra’s Chief Technology Officer, Hakan Eriksson, previous trials in Australia used Wi-Fi-like 802.11p technology for short-range communications. However, the ACV2 project is being touted as the first in the country to avail both cutting edge short-range radios and advanced 4G Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology – heralding the forthcoming rollout of 5G technologies, which can support the technology.

ACV2  will hit metropolitan and regional roads in Victoria following a successful six-month controlled testing period during which other life-saving communication features were also trialled – for instance, the secure sending of speed zone, traffic light timing and other signals to cars.

While the trial has so far focused on road safety benefits, connected vehicle technology is also expected to promote smoother traffic flow, as well as reducing congestion and lowering emissions and fuel consumption.

“Crucially, we are investing in this project to develop cellular V2X for connected vehicles well before automated vehicles are readily available – making driving safer, easier, more economic and more enjoyable,” said Nikos Katinakis, Telstra’s Group Executive, Networks & IT.

The ACV2 project is funded by Victoria’s Connected and Automated Vehicle Trial Grants Program, part of Victoria’s Towards Zero Action Plan which seeks to dramatically reduce fatal accidents.

Under the Action Plan, the Victorian government is also funding an upcoming autonomous vehicle trial in partnership with German electronics and engineering firm Bosch, following legislation enacted last year.

In addition to these projects, VicRoads, alongside Transurban, is looking into the interaction of autonomous vehicles with road infrastructure on the Monash CityLink-Tullamarine corridor.

Victoria’s transport initiatives are designed to align with Australia’s National Transport Commission’s (NTC) aims to reform road laws by 2020, paving the way for commercial rollouts of autonomous vehicles.