THE state's Central West is fast becoming a hub for driverless vehicles with the world's first driverless ute becoming a reality in the region.
In the coming weeks, Dubbo locals will see first hand the driverless Ford Ranger take to the streets as part of the next stage of development for the project, which is funded by Transport for NSW, Conigital, NRMA, Dubbo Bus Lines, Sydney Motorsport Park, Liftango, QBE and Dubbo Regional Council.
As part of the next stage of the Smart Ute project, the vehicle will collect data between Dubbo CBD, Dubbo Regional Airport and Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the Smart Ute had spent the past few months at the Cudal Testing Facility near Orange, where developers had been busy perfecting its automated systems, which include the ability to detect obstacles such as kangaroos.
"The Smart Ute uses drive-by-wire technology fitted with radars and cameras to collect data to allow it to drive mapped distances on the road," Mr Toole said.
"This next phase will see the Smart Ute driven by our expert operators to collect data that will be used to assess the vehicle's ability to carry out automated routes, laying the foundation for introducing the vehicle safely in automated mode by mid-2022.
"No other country has to deal with the unpredictability of roos hopping in front of cars, so once the automated features are safely tested in 2022, the project will investigate opportunities for introducing kangaroo detection to the vehicle."
Dubbo MP Dugald Saunders said the trial would position the Central West as a leading location in future transport.
"Central West NSW is shaping up as a key hub in the development of driverless technology that will undoubtedly play a big role in shaping transport technology for the future," Mr Saunders said.
"The Smart Ute has spent the past few months at the Cudal Testing Facility just outside Orange, where the vehicle's automated systems are being developed.
"Most new cars on our roads have some level of automated technology and trials like this are crucial in preparing for the future of mobility in Australia."
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