Victoria is set to get its first-ever fleet of self-driving cars this year after the state government approved a $2.3 grant for global whitegoods manufacturer and engineering company Bosch to develop and trial the vehicles.
The company will begin testing its fleet on high-speed rural roads in late-2019, with the overall aim of the pilot being to reduce the number of crashes on rural Victorian roads.
When Bosch’s vehicles (which we assume will not look like the above) hit the road later this year, it will mark the first time driverless cars have hit the road in the state, with legislation permitting the vehicles’ operation passed through state parliament early last year.
Under the legislation, companies such as Bosch can apply for permits to develop and trial their technology, and the German company is the first to receive a slice of the Victorian government’s $9 million Connected and Automated Vehicle Trial Grants Program.
Other successful applicants are expected to be announced soon.
“Victoria is leading the nation in the future of on-road technology and this trial is an exciting step towards driverless vehicles hitting the road,” Acting Premier Jacinta Allan said in a statement.
“The tragic fact is that you’re five times as likely to be killed on a rural road than in the city. That’s why we’re rolling out a record roads investment in rural Victoria — and this is another way we can improve safety and save lives.”
Victoria is not the first state to trial driverless cars, with New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia all running trials at different points over the last few years. Adelaide tech firm Cohda Wireless recently received $2 million from the state government to run its own trial for a new radar system for autonomous vehicles.
Experts have also expressed significant support for driverless cars Down Under, saying it could help to bolster the country’s languishing automotive industry.
“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,” Bosch Australia president Gavin Smith said in a statement.