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Self-driving car fast on its way to NZ roads

10 years ago a self-driving car was nothing but a figment of the imagination...or a quick trip to the video store. Fast forward to now, and the country’s first autonomous vehicle could be on the road in a matter of months.

The New Zealand Traffic Institute (Trafinz), Volvo, New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and the Ministry of Transport have all come together to show how an autonomous vehicle could handle New Zealand roads.

On a 10-15km stretch of road in Tauranga, Volvo will put the car to the test as part of the national Trafinz transport conference.

Coby Duggan, national manager of Volvo NZ, says the vehicle will self-drive using technology to navigate the road. He says the demonstration will take place in a ‘real world’ environment with other motorists.

Anders Eugensson, an expert from Volvo’s Swedish headquarters, says the technology offers significant benefits for New Zealanders who commute daily.

“Our research shows around nine in every ten crashes have a driver causation error component and the reality is, self-driving cars simply do not get distracted,” he says.

“We believe this technology will greatly reduce the number of collisions on New Zealand roads while also improving efficiency,” he says.

Eugensson adds that autonomous driving (AD) will also help reduce congestion on our roads and improve productivity.

John Goettler, vice president of Traffinz, says the technology has real applications for the future of transport within our country.

“This demonstration is a significant first milestone towards the introduction of self-drive vehicles to enhance road safety and productivity in New Zealand,” he says.

“New Zealand is an ideal location for the demonstration because of our world-leading regulatory environment, which encourages trialling and demonstrations of new technology such as autonomous vehicles, while protecting the safety of all road users,” explains Goettler.

“As the volume of these vehicles grows we also need to turn our attention to the creation of smart highways and motorways, to obtain the real benefits of safer, more efficient, people focused and less congested travel.”

The demonstration will likely take place on the 18th of November once NZTA regulatory requirements have been approved and completed.

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