Roo b'ute! World first driverless ute has kangaroos in its sights

Published

Dubbo, the city that welcomed the Royal couple, will make headlines again as it launches the world’s first driverless ute.

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey, Member for Dubbo Troy Grant and Nationals Candidate Dugald Saunders today announced a world first driverless ute that will connect key locations within Dubbo, whilst also focusing on how driverless vehicles handle kangaroos movements.

“No other country has to deal with the unpredictability of kangaroos hopping in front of cars, I’m excited we’re trialling technology that protects drivers as well as wildlife on country roads,” Mrs Pavey said.

KEY POINTS

  • Current driverless technology is unable to react to the unpredictability of kangaroos.
  • The Smart ute will be a crew cab retrofitted with automation technology – requiring eight months in development before operating 12 months on-road.
  • On NSW roads, there are about 100 serious injuries a year due to collisions with kangaroos and wallabies, with two deaths occurring in 2018
  • The vehicle will operate between Dubbo CBD, Dubbo Regional Airport and Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Member for Dubbo Troy Grant said the community in Dubbo will be able to experience the smart ute during the 12-month trial phase in 2019.

“I’m excited to see Dubbo taking its place in the development of driverless technology that will undoubtedly play a big role in shaping transport technology of the future,” Mr Grant said.

Nationals Candidate for Dubbo Dugald Saunders believes the community in Dubbo know all too well the threat kangaroos pose to regional drivers.

“Crashes involving kangaroos can be deadly. This trial will advance ways that cars of the future can detect and avoid collisions with the animals,” Mr Saunders said.

The Smart ute trial is being developed between Liberals & Nationals, industry and Council.

NRMA Chief Investment Officer Rachel Wiseman said 94 per cent of crashes are caused by human error so the increased use of autonomous vehicles will bring about tremendous change on our roads.

“Most new cars on our roads are already semi-autonomous, so trials like this are crucial in preparing for the future of mobility in Australia.”