Got questions about the RAC Automated Vehicle Program? We've got answers
About the RAC Automated Vehicle Program
AVs are vehicles that have one or more of the primary driving controls (steering, acceleration, braking) that are automated for a sustained period of time.
Levels of automation range from no automation of driving controls (Level 0), through automated features that assist the human with the driving task, to highly (Level 4) and fully (Level 5) automated vehicles. The Intellibus and Intellicar are classed as Level 4 vehicles.
Image source: The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) levels of automation.
RAC‘s AV Program is helping develop a roadmap for how AV technology can be applied to solve road safety and mobility challenges in Australia.
The RAC Intellibus® is a driverless shuttle operating on the South Perth foreshore since 31st August 2016, giving Western Australians the chance to experience driverless technology for themselves.
Between May 2018 and May 2019, we tested an automated prototype vehicle, the RAC Intellicar, on a closed, private track. While there are no plans to progress the Intellicar trial to a further stage, RAC continues to operate our world-leading Intellibus trial.
We believe AV technology has the potential to change the way we move for the better.
In a safety-first approach, we aim to test and evaluate AVs as we move closer to readying Australia for the safe transition to AVs and our future world of safer, easier and more sustainable transport.
The State Government and City of South Perth have provided invaluable support to facilitate the trials, including assessing and granting the necessary approvals to operate on public roads.
The Intellibus trial also received grant funding from the Australian Government from November 2017-June 2019. Such partnerships are vital to deliver successful trials and for moving WA and Australia forward in planning and preparing for a driverless future.
We collect data from the vehicles performance and interactions with its environment, perceptions of those that ride and the broader community. We share a range of learnings through submissions to Government and industry, to better prepare for the safe transition of AVs onto our roads. Personal information is protected in line with government legislation.
Safety is our primary priority. All the vehicles are rigorously tested before being placed into a public environment and safety management processes, independent audits, procedures and measures applied.
In addition, the vehicles:
- are fitted with seatbelts
- have emergency buttons and controls for manual intervention
- have stickers or screens visible inside and outside to display information to other road users and passengers
- have a horn or bell
The Intellibus has two Chaperones onboard at all times, who can take control of the vehicle if necessary and there is onsite traffic management.
The Intellibus is manufactured by French company Navya.
RAC Intellibus® trial
The Intellibus carries passengers along a 3.5km route in the City of South Perth along the South Perth Esplanade. The Intellibus operates 2 days a week, with rides every 30 minutes between 9:30am to 12:00 and 1:00pm to 3:00pm Friday to Saturday.
To adhere with seatbelt legislation, passengers must be over the age of 7; those aged 7-14 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The Intellibus has been fitted with removable ramps and we have been working with the manufacturer to incorporate automated ramps, to see if we can assist please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Automated vehicles and society
In the longer-term AVs are expected to be safer than conventional vehicles. Human error is the cause of the vast majority of road deaths and injuries, so if we can automate the driving task and reduce the risk of human error, we can improve the safety of our roads.
However, increasing automation does also raise many considerations which need to be explored and managed to safely transition to more widespread operation of AVs on our roads.
Many new cars on the market today feature some degree of automation (e.g. adaptive cruise control; lane keeping assist). Many car manufacturers estimate the first high to fully automated vehicles will hit the market between 2020 and 2030.
Image Source: The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) levels of automation.
Responsibility in the event of a crash involving an AV may be difficult to determine. For all but fully automated vehicles, insurers, law enforcement agencies and individuals will need access to vehicle data to determine whether the human or AV was performing the critical driving tasks (e.g. steering, accelerating, braking) at the time of the crash.
Liability for AV crashes will be complex and there may be times when responsibility overlaps, such as where multiple manufacturers are associated with one vehicle.
RAC’s AV Program aims to improve understanding of AV technology while it remains in the early stages of development and in a position to better advocate for AVs.