First Aussie self-driving car to be tested in Melbourne

MELBOURNE • Australia's first locally designed self-driving car is set to be tested for the first time.

The roads that form the Albert Park track, which hosts Melbourne' s Formula One race, will be closed to the public on Sunday as Bosch, an Australian car parts company, tests its own self-driving car technology.

Bosch engineers, who designed stability control and anti-lock braking systems for Ford, Holden and Toyota before the car giants shut down their Australian manufacturing, fitted a Tesla vehicle with technology which, they say, is well ahead of that in current self-driving cars.

"What we have done is, we've taken the vehicle as a base, and all the autonomous functions, all of the advanced functions, are new," Bosch Australia president Gavin Smith said yesterday.

Victoria state Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said self-driving cars provide a great opportunity to reduce the state's annual road toll. "These trials are important for VicRoads to identify how driverless vehicles are going to interact with the infrastructure in our local community," he said.

VicRoads or the Roads Corporation of Victoria is the state's road and traffic authority.

Bosch expects level-four driverless cars using Bosch's technology to be on the market around 2025. Level-four cars are those with self-driving technology but still have a steering wheel, so a human can take over if needed.

Mr Smith said just because the trial will use a Tesla vehicle, the technology should not be associated with a case in the United States where a man was killed when his Tesla car's autopilot drove the car into a large truck. It could not tell the difference between the trailer and the sky.

He said: "The fact that this car looks like one that was involved in accidents shouldn't confuse people who see it. It looks like a Tesla but the automated driving functions are ours."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2016, with the headline 'First Aussie self-driving car to be tested in Melbourne'. Print Edition | Subscribe