10 May 2019

Driverless cars in trial confused by white lines, scuff marks on Brisbane roads

Automated vehicles trialled on Brisbane motorways unintentionally drove into emergency stopping bays and were confused by scuff marks on the roads.

The findings of a two-month trial of the technology means it could be years before the city's drivers can take their hands off the wheel.

Road operator Transurban launched a trial in October last year that put automated vehicle technology on Brisbane's arterial motorways.

The trial was designed to test seven vehicles with automated technology and how they reacted to Brisbane's road markings, street signs and other infrastructure — with some findings suggesting the technology had a way to go.

At a Brisbane City Council infrastructure committee meeting on Tuesday, councillors received an update on the trial's progress, after 10 days of trials over two months.

Vehicles had difficulty following some temporary white lines, such as when going into roadworks, were frequently "blinded" when exiting tunnels, and couldn't reliably read digital speed signs.

The vehicles — driven by professional drivers who could intervene if something went wrong — also tended to follow the left-hand white lines on a road into an emergency stopping bay, and could be confused by scuff marks on the road.

The trials were run with support from Brisbane City Council, the Department of Transport and Main Roads, the Queensland Trucking Association, Queensland Police, the RACQ and the Queensland Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety.

Transurban released the findings from the trial last week, noting that while many of the results were similar to other trials across Australia, Brisbane had several differentiating factors.

The problems with vehicles driving into emergency stopping bays was unique to Brisbane, the report said, and meant Transurban would have to assess how its roads were managed for the future.

But the council was told by principal engineer Brendan O’Keeffe that trials were still set for up to three years into the future.

The goal of automated driving at the moment is to reach "level two" automation, with drivers being given some assistance in steering and speed, at an "optional" level of automated support, he said.

Mr O'Keeffe said Transurban's interest in the trials was to get a better understanding of how it would need to change its roads in the future for the many different automated vehicles predicted to be on the roads.

The Transurban report itself noted the increasing complexity and revised timelines for the rise of automated vehicle technology.

"While the technology is rapidly developing, early expectations are being revised, especially around the time frames for the arrival and adoption of more highly-automated and, eventually, driverless vehicles," the Transurban report said.

SOURCE ; https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/driverless-cars-in-trial-confused-by-white-lines-scuff-marks-on-brisbane-roads-20190507-p51ktm.html

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