Industry News

Driverless trucks trial begins in Melbourne

Two driverless Iveco S-Way AS550 trucks are to be trialled on two of Melbourne’s busiest freight routes over the next six months.

The trial launches today with the first Iveco tested along the M1 from the West Gate Freeway through to the Monash, including CityLink, on a dedicated lane.

The full route extends from the Port of Melbourne, along CityLink through the Burnley Tunnel and the Monash Freeway to Dandenong and back again.

The trucks will travel at night between 10pm and 5am to avoid heavy traffic, with each carrying a supervising driver and engineer on board at all times.

The Ivecos are fitted with sensors and cameras, and driven by Level 4 autonomous driving technology from software firm Plus, said Transurban.

Level 4 autonomy means the vehicle’s automated driving system are in total control – navigating motorway entries, changing lanes, driving inside tunnels, observing traffic lights and responding to any traffic condition they’re presented with along the way.

“Highly experienced heavy-vehicle drivers are on board throughout, ready to take control if needed and in line with safety protocols.”

Transurban ran a similar trial at the end of 2022 over three weeks.

Transurban said autonomous trucks have the potential “to deliver positive economic and social benefits, including reducing heavy vehicle impacts, improving road safety and reducing freight costs”.

“The Port of Melbourne is Australia’s busiest container port and, as Melbourne grows, so will the demand for cargo – and its delivery.

“There are substantial challenges ahead for the freight industry, which will require a range of innovative solutions – autonomous trucking is one potential solution.”

Speaking on the 3AW radio station today, Victorian Transport Association CEO Peter Anderson believes the industry and community will be embracing this technology in years to come.

“It’s closer than you think,” Anderson said. “There’s a lot of work going on around it.

“We are leading the way in Melbourne in trialling and making sure that this technology works.”

Anderson said the trial is also about building “social licence”.

“That’s the biggest element in the way. The technology is there and it’s not necessarily going to take jobs away in the first instance.

“It’s just where we’ll put it, where it’s safest, and where we think the community will accept it. It’s the community who will determine how quickly this technology is taken up.”


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