Connected and automated vehicle technology

Connected and automated vehicle technology is developing rapidly and can bring significant road safety and economic benefits to Victoria.

What are automated vehicles?

Automated vehicles are vehicles that can perform some driving functions automatically, without the input of a human driver. Many new vehicles today have some level of driving automation, with one or more aspects of control such as acceleration, braking or steering, being performed by the vehicle rather than the driver. Examples of partial automation currently available include Automatic Parking Assist and Automated Highway Driving.

The Society of Automotive Engineers defines six levels of driving automation based on the level of driver versus vehicle control. This ranges from level zero – where there is no driving automation, up to level five – where the vehicle is fully automated, capable of driving itself anywhere on the road network with no requirement for human driver involvement.

Level 0 - No Driving Automation means the human driver undertakes the driving, even when enhanced by active safety systems that assist in preventing road crashes. Examples of active safety systems are Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS).

Level 1 - Driver Assistance means that the system undertakes either steering, or acceleration and braking (but not both at the same time) for sustained periods, with the expectation that the human driver performs the remainder of the driving task. Examples of this includes Lake Keep Assist (LKA) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC).

Level 2 - Partial Driving Automation means that the system may take control of steering, acceleration, and braking for sustained periods in defined circumstances, with the expectation that the human driver continues to monitor the driving environment and supervises the system, intervening if required. An example of this is Auto Parking Assist.

Level 3 - Conditional Driving Automation means that the automated driving system drives the vehicle for sustained periods of time, with the expectation that the human driver is receptive to any system failures and intervenes if requested or required, and is the fall-back for the dynamic driving task. An example of this is Automated Highway Driving.

Level 4 - High Driving Automation means that the automated driving system drives the vehicle for sustained periods of time in some situations, or all of the time in defined areas, without any expectation that a human driver will respond to a request to intervene when the system is driving the vehicle. Examples are valet parking functions, passenger cars that can drive themselves on a freeway and bring the vehicle to a safe state if there is no response to a request to intervene (slows the vehicle and brings it to a safe stop out of the way of traffic), and driverless shuttles that can operate at all times, but only in a limited area.

Level 5 - Full Driving Automation means that all aspects of the driving task and monitoring of the driving environment are to be undertaken by the automated driving system. The vehicle can operate in automated driving mode on all roads at all times without any requirement for a human to take control at any time.

What is connected vehicle technology?

Connected vehicle technology allows vehicles to exchange data cooperatively through wireless communication. A vehicle could exchange information with other vehicles and road users, road infrastructure, public transport systems, cloud based services, or with anyone that has a mobile device (such as a smartphone).

This technology could be used to warn drivers about road hazards or the presence of other road users. A connected vehicle has the potential to be used in many situations that would improve traffic flow and increase the efficiency of the road network. 

Potential benefits of connected and automated vehicle technology 

Some of the potential benefits include: 

Improved road safety - automated vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce crashes by mitigating human error and other factors that contribute to crashes such as driver fatigue and distraction. Connected vehicle technology can enhance an automated vehicle’s ability to detect and respond to perceived hazards.

Increased network efficiency - connected and automated vehicles are expected to improve traffic flow and create more predictable journeys through a more integrated transport network.

Increased productivity- an integrated transport network would significantly improve business productivity through more efficient travel. Automated vehicles would allow people to be more productive by using the travel time to do other things instead of driving.

Increased energy efficiency – a more integrated road network would greatly reduce energy consumption through more efficient vehicles and driving, and would remove the need for traditional infrastructure.

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