Volvo made history today by having the first on-road demo of a driverless car in the Southern Hemisphere. The company showcased the capabilities of its driverless XC90 in a demonstration that was held in Adelaide, Australia. Moreover, the car maker predicts that by 2020, driverless cars will be a regular sight on the roads granted that specific law reforms are implemented then.
The event, which was held near Lonsdale, in a 7-km section of Adelaide's Southern Expressway, is part of the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI) that is coordinated by the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB).
"Our Government is providing the conditions for these trials to occur in South Australia because we recognise the immense benefits that autonomous vehicles and intelligent transport systems will bring to our communities," Stephen Mullighan, South Australia's Minister for Transport and Infrastructure says [pdf] on a news release.
Driverless cars are being looked into to not only provide better fuel economy and less emissions, but more importantly, to improve road safety. In the demonstration, Volvo showcased its autonomous vehicle's adaptive cruise control, active queue assist and automatic lane keeping. Of course, granted that it was a demonstration, a trained operator was present to oversee everything.
"This demonstration marks the first of a series of research and field trials nationally to identify and assess what needs to be done to make driverless cars appropriate in an Australian context," says Gerard Waldron, ARRB Group managing director.
According to the Australian, which had a representative taken for a ride in the driverless vehicle, the autonomous XC90 was tested in the presence of a human-driven XC90 to see if how it adapts to changing conditions and the other vehicles around it.
Aside from the journalists, Jay Weatherill, the South Australian Premier, was also taken for a ride by the AI-driven XC90. The politician commented that driverless cars can turn the page on Australia's transport system. Moreover, Weatherill wants Australia to be at the forefront of the AI-driven car industry, which is expected to be worth over $90 billion by 2030.
Kevin McCann, managing director at Volvo Cars Australia, reveals that European researchers have already laid the road map for the driverless cars' introduction. However, for the autonomous vehicle industry to grow, McCann notes that legislation must first be amended.