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What are Connected and Automated Vehicles?

Connected and Automated Vehicles Plan

What are Connected and Automated Vehicles?

Automated vehicles

Automated vehicles use technologies including robotics, sensors and advanced software to automate one or more elements of driving, such as steering, accelerating or braking. Vehicle automation is not new. Features such as electronic stability control and electronic brake assist have been part of a gradual increase in automated systems over many years.

Figure 4 image source 7


There are six levels of driving automation that are defined by an internationally-recognised standard, issued by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International.8

Figure 5 image source 9


A small but growing number of new cars and trucks sold in Australia already include partially automated systems (Level 2 automation) such as adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and automated emergency braking. These technologies offer significant safety and other benefits to road users today in cars and heavy vehicles.


NSW light vehicle fleet with advanced driver assist systems

  2016 2017 Change
Automated Emergency Braking 2.1% 4.3% +104.8%
Electronic Stability Control 56.8% 60.7% +6.9%
Lane Keeping Assist 2.4% 4.0% +66.7%
Pre-collision Warning 4.2% 6.5% +66.7%
Adaptive Cruise Control 1.9% 3.0% +57.9%
Reversing cameras 21.2% 26.7% +25.9%
Fatigue warning 2.4% 3.4% +41.7%

Note: the data comprise light vehicles with a compliance plate of 2000 to 2017 (excluding motorcycles, plant vehicles, and trailers). Total fleet: 4,734,969. 
Source: NSW Centre for Road Safety

Vehicles entering the market within the next year or two will combine and enhance these capabilities to enable conditional automation (Level 3 automation) – where vehicles can operate themselves in limited situations, such as driving from on-ramp to off-ramp on a motorway, with a human driver remaining responsible for the driving task.

A number of car manufacturers have or are soon introducing models with conditionally automated systems, such as the Traffic Jam Pilot feature in the Nissan Qashqai and upcoming Audi A8, which will allow for ‘hands free’ driving in heavy traffic on highways at certain speeds.

As per existing NSW legislation, the human driver of an automated vehicle will still be expected to keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times, be alert and ready to take over.

National laws are being established to allow an automated driving system to be in control of the vehicle at conditional, high and full automation (levels 3, 4 and 5) when it is engaged, and set out any legal obligations and responsibilities on human drivers or users of automated vehicles. This is important for ensuring a safe transition through increasing automation and a mixed fleet.

Highly automated vehicles (Level 4 automation) take this further, and can operate without a human driver (i.e. as a driverless vehicle) in specific conditions. For example, in a specific precinct or road, in certain weather conditions, and/or at limited speeds. The human driver or operator is only responsible for driving when the vehicle is not in automated mode or if required to take back control in changed conditions.

Examples of highly automated vehicles include automated ridesharing service vehicles being developed by companies such as Waymo, nuTonomy and GM Cruise, automated passenger shuttles like the ones currently being trialled at Sydney Olympic Park, Armidale and Coffs Harbour, and footpath-based delivery drones. These technologies are still in development and usually operate with some level of human supervision during testing to ensure safety.

Fully automated vehicles (Level 5 automation) will be capable of travelling on any road, at any time, in all weather conditions, as a fully driverless vehicle without any human control. These vehicles may also allow a human driver or operator to take control if needed. While fully driverless technology does not yet exist and is expected to take many years to achieve, major automotive and technology companies are investing significant resources to develop and commercialise this capability.


Connected vehicles

Connected vehicles use wireless technology to communicate with other vehicles, the road and other infrastructure, and even personal devices. These communications use a mix of technology – including commercial telecommunications networks (4G and 5G), global navigation and satellite technologies, and Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) – depending on the operating area and use.

By combining these communication technologies with Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), such as smart traffic signal controls and sensing technologies, this connectivity is a powerful tool for gathering and processing data into timely information and services for people, businesses and network operators. This means vehicles can operate more safely and intelligently by sharing information or alerts on safety hazards and congestion.

Most new cars today are already ‘connected’ in some way. Even smart phones are part of the connected vehicle ecosystem, enabling real-time traffic information and allowing you to track the location of a bus, taxi or delivery.

As more vehicles become connected, this ecosystem will grow and mature to help improve road safety and traffic flow, provide better customer information, and enable automated vehicles to drive safely and cooperatively in the future.

The coverage and capacity of existing commercial communication networks vary in their ability to cater for the increasingly connected fleet in all locations and for all services. Our understanding of the communications infrastructure needed to support longer term adoption of CAVs is still emerging – and will be informed by ongoing research, real-world trials and continued engagement with governments and industry in Australia and overseas.

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The Future Transport 2056 Strategy is focused on six key principles for the future of mobility in the state, which together aim to positively impact the economy, communities and environment of NSW.

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