Bosch will commence a trial of its automated vehicle technology on “high speed rural roads” in Victoria later this year.
The testing will be conducted on roads that expose the automated vehicle to a different traffic, weather and infrastructure conditions, with the ultimate aim of improving safety on rural Victorian roads – where drivers are five times more likely to be killed in a crash than in metropolitan areas.
The German electronics and engineering giantwas awarded $2.3 million from the Victorian Government’s Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) Trial Grants Program to carry out the on-road trial.
“Bosch is a proud leader in vehicle safety systems and is eager to commence this trial with technologies that will show how we can improve road safety and reduce road trauma on rural roads,” said Bosch Australia president Gavin Smith.
Work has already started on the vehicle – the Bosch TAC, based on a Tesla Model S – which was initially developed for a 2016 effort to build “the first vehicle developed in Australia with self-driving capabilities” in partnership with the Victorian Government, the Transport Accident Commission and VicRoads.
That $1.2 million investment saw 45 Bosch engineers develop the vehicle – designed to navigate roads with or without driver input and featuring technology to detect and avoid hazards – at the company’s Australian headquarters in Clayton.
The modified Tesla featured 60 new components including six radars, six LIDAR laser sensors, high definition GPS (accurate to two centimetres), a stereo video camera, two kilometres of cable and enough computing power to process more than a terabyte of data per day.
“The [latest] trial will be using the same vehicle however the automated driving systems will be upgraded and improved upon for the additional complexity of this trial,” a Bosch spokesperson told CIO Australia.
Work to upgrade the vehicle commenced in October last year, and the on road trial is expected to wrap up in June 2020.
“The first phase focuses on engineering development of the Bosch automated driving system – underway – and identification of trial locations. This will be followed by the on-road trials expected to commence from mid-2019. On-road trial focus will be on high speed, high volume roads,” the spokesperson added.
The Bosch TAC vehicle was also one of 12 vehicles tested in a Transurban automated vehicle trial which commenced in 2017.
The vehicles travelled a combined 4,900 kilometres along sections of the Monash-CityLink-Tullamarine corridor in the trial, as researchers evaluated features like lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition, and their response to tunnels, road works, electronic speed signs and congestion.
A similar trial by Transurban commenced in Sydney in April last year.
Bosch is investing heavily into research and development of automated driving systems from perception of the vehicle’s surroundings through applying artificial intelligence to the actual driving process.
The vision – according to Bosch board member Dr. Dirk Hoheisel – is that soon, “on the freeway, the car becomes the chauffeur and the driver a passenger”.
The firm also launched a connected shuttle bus at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
Signalling the company’s ambitions in the automated vehicle space, Bosch’s Dr Markus Heyn told the conference that: “In the future, every vehicle on the road will make use of Bosch digital services.”
State “leading the nation” with on-road tech
The Bosch trial announced today is the first on-road trial approved under the Victorian Government’s new Automated Driving System (ADS) permit scheme.
The ADS scheme came into effect in September last year, authorising individuals and companies to test automated vehicles of SAE level 3 driving automation or higher on public roads.
“The trials will support Victoria’s readiness for CAV technologies and the knowledge gained will provide a better understanding of the infrastructure required to get these vehicles on the road, maximising their safety benefits,” the government said.
Acting Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan said the state was “leading the nation” in on-road technology.
“This trial is an exciting step towards driverless vehicles hitting the road,” she added.