Self-driving car hits the road in Tauranga

  • 18/11/2016
A Volvo graphic showing how a self-driving car works (Volvo/supplied)
A Volvo graphic showing how a self-driving car works (Volvo/supplied)

Bay of Plenty drivers dubious about self-driving cars may be inclined to stay off the roads on Friday.

Car maker Volvo and NZTA are set to carry out the country's first-ever public road demonstration of an automated vehicle in normal traffic conditions on a 15km stretch of road in Tauranga.

Transport Minister and local MP Simon Bridges will also be along as a passenger during trip - part of a Trafinz conference - during which a "driver" will only be required to occasionally tell the vehicle they're still there.

Volvo senior product director Henrik Jarlebratt said the showcase wasn't just about technology, but about the wider framework in which self-driving cars would operate.

"It demonstrates that there is the necessary level of co-operation among car makers, government agencies and industry bodies in New Zealand to allow the widespread adoption of innovative new technologies," he said.

The demo will run on what is internationally called 'level 2' or 'partial automation'.

"It'll be able to accelerate, it will be able to brake and it will be able to steer itself around road markings," says Volvo general manager Coby Duggan - but the driver will still be ultimately responsible.

A level 4 vehicle intervenes even if a driver does not respond when alerted, and a level 5 car has full control.

"Ultimately it's about the technology being so advanced and so consistent that the car will be making better decisions than a driver will," says Mr Duggan.

NZN / Newshub.