Telstra and vehicles manufacturer Lexus Australia have received a $3.5 million grant from the Victoria Government to test new communication technologies in cars.
The trials are set to test Australian cellular V2X technology and advanced driver assist features to create a safer driving experience, which will be powered by Telstra's 4GX network.
The trial will allow cars to connect directly to each other and, through cloud servers, to traffic management centres and other services.
This is part of the Government’s $9-million Towards Zero Connected and Automated Vehicle Trial Grants Program, which will help Telstra, Lexus Australia, VicRoads and TAC better understand the "life-saving" technology, with a view to making it available commercially in coming years.
“New technologies, like those being trialled, offer exciting opportunities to further improve road safety and increase our understanding of what Victoria needs to do to prepare for connected and automated vehicles," said Samantha Cockfield transport accident commission director Road Safety
The vehicle safety systems being trialled includes emergency braking alerts, in-vehicle speed limit compliance warnings, right-turn assist for vulnerable road users and warnings when surrounding vehicles are likely to violate a red light.
The trial will deploy two specially-equipped Lexus 450h F Sport luxury SUVs equipped with cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology.
"C-V2X is the technology that lets cars talk to each other, and the environment around them, via our 4G mobile network and via direct short-range wireless links," said Håkan Eriksson, CTO at Telstra.
"For instance, if a trial vehicle ahead performs an emergency brake, it will send this message to a V2X-equipped car following — potentially before a forward collision radar or driver notices the event. In these situations, mere milliseconds can make a huge difference," he explained.
Telstra will also investigate other applications, including how to securely send speed zone, traffic light timing, and other signals to cars so all the information can be available to help prevent road trauma.
As the technology uses 4G, Telstra has explained that, in the case of no 4G coverage in the roads, the system would still work.
"The strength of cellular V2X technology is that it combines both short range radios (which allows vehicles to communicate directly with one another using cellular technology, but without going via a cellular network) and wide-area 4G-based mobile communications when available," Eriksson said.
"So, even in the case that there’s no mobile coverage, the most urgent safety messages will still get through and help to save lives.
"As Australia moves towards a society of automated vehicles, we are investing in developing cooperative intelligent transport technologies that will make road users safer by helping cars communicate with the things around them."