QUT investigating automated vehicle safety
Queensland will next year welcome its first purpose-built automated vehicle, following the signing of an international agreement at the recent Australian Intelligent Transport Systems Summit.
Delivering the keynote address at the summit, Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said on-road testing of the automated vehicle is an integral part of Queensland’s preparation for advanced vehicle technologies.
“Plans are underway to test vehicles with automated driving capabilities as part of the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ Cooperative and Highly Automated Driving (CHAD) Pilot,” Bailey said.
“In early 2019, we will receive a Renault ZOE EV, a Society of Automotive Engineers Level Four automated vehicle purpose built in France for our CHAD pilot.”
A Level Four automated vehicle does not require the driver to take action when the system is driving, but allows them to take back control if needed. A cooperative automated vehicle (CAV) can also connect with other vehicles, infrastructure and road operations systems to share safety-related messages and warnings.
Bailey said the Queensland Government has partnered with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre (iMOVE CRC) to explore the safety impacts of automated vehicles on the road, and to allow road users to see and experience them.
“Through QUT’s partnership with VEDECOM, a French collaborative research centre, we will test automated vehicle safety across five areas — roads, roadsides, vehicles, road users and speeds,” Bailey said.
“We’re doing this testing so we will be ready when vehicles with these capabilities are widely available for Queensland road users.
“Preparation is key. We must ensure our road network, infrastructure, legislation, regulation and licensing processes are aligned to ... integrate automated vehicles with our transport network.”
QUT Professor Andry Rakotonirainy said the project will enable QUT to develop new methods of testing the validity of automated vehicles, and to help ensure their safe interaction with other road users and road infrastructure.
“Automated vehicles will disrupt our approach to mobility, as smartphones did to communication,” Prof Rakotonirainy said. “CAVs are an opportunity to increase mobility access for all, while improving road safety and congestion.”
The CHAD Pilot is part of the larger Cooperative and Automated Vehicle Initiative (CAVI), delivered by the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR). CAVI also includes Australia’s largest trial of Cooperative Intelligent Transport System (C-ITS) technologies, evaluating advanced vehicle warning systems such as pedestrians crossing a signalised intersection, red light violations and traffic queues.
C-ITS devices will enable vehicles to communicate with other vehicles and infrastructure, such as traffic lights, as well as road operations and cloud-based sharing systems, in real time. The human-machine interface (HMI) software will display safety-related messages to the driver about potential hazards such as:
- emergency electronic brake light warning
- slow/stopped vehicle
- turning warning for bicycle riders and pedestrians
- roadworks warning
- traffic queues and advanced red light notification.
The Ipswich Connected Vehicle Pilot, delivered by TMR and iMOVE CRC and supported by QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety-Queensland (CARRS-Q), will see 500 vehicles, including public and fleet vehicles, retrofitted with C-ITS hardware and software for a pilot study taking place from late 2019.
“We are evaluating the safety benefits of the C-ITS by examining the difference in driver behaviour when the message system is active and inactive,” said QUT Research Fellow Dr Mohammed Elhenawy.
“We must ensure the C-ITS is fine-tuned to ensure the driver changes their course to avoid a crash or hazard, and thereby ensure the safety of themselves and other road users.
“The driver remains in control of the vehicles at all times, and manually responds to the safety messages.
“The way the vehicle responds to the safety message is in no way automated.”
Dr Elhenawy said the effectiveness of the safety warnings will be dependent on certain variables when the message is sent, such as the distance between two cars, driver- and vehicle-related factors, road surface condition and traffic flow information.
Prof Rakotonirainy added that vehicles involved in the trial will be fitted with a range of wireless and sensor technology. He said, “We have an opportunity to consider if the system operates in the way it is intended and if it results in the desired behaviour from drivers and improves driver safety.”
CARRS-Q’s Dr Andy Bond, who is also involved in the research team, said the trial is an opportunity to validate the safety benefits associated with greater awareness and instrumentation of transport systems.
“By working together with greater, targeted information, drivers, and ultimately vehicles, can better manage challenging driving scenarios,” Dr Bond said.
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