Plus Level 4 Autonomous Trucks in Australia

  • September 11, 2023
  • William Payne

Australian toll-road operator Transurban is partnering US autonomous driving software company Plus. The partnership will advance Transurban’s automated freight programme and develop autonomous driving software expertise in the state of Victoria.

It will build on Transurban’s successful first self-driving truck trial on CityLink and the Monash Freeway in Victoria last year. The two companies will explore how Plus’s Level 4 autonomous driving technology, combined with smart road infrastructure, could help make trucking safer, more efficient, and more sustainable in Australia.

Starting in 2017, Transurban’s CAV testing programme has worked with governments and industry to roll out 11 successful trials of fully and partially automated vehicles on motorways across Australia and North America to test how they respond to road infrastructure.

Transurban’s 2022 trial was the first time in Australia that a highly automated self-driving truck was tested in live traffic conditions on public motorways.

The partnership between Transurban and Plus will build on Plus’s autonomous driving software and deployment experience. This includes cooperation with IVECO, the commercial vehicle brand of Iveco Group, to co-develop self-driving trucks for Europe. Automated trucks enabled by Plus’s technology are already delivering freight in the US and being tested on public roads in Germany with IVECO.

Plus’s autonomous driving software uses advances in generative AI, machine learning, computer vision, and other algorithms. Integrated with lidar, radar, and camera sensors, Plus’s software can detect and track objects, predict their movement, and safely manoeuvre the vehicle.

Scott Charlton, CEO of Transurban, said: “This partnership will support long-term opportunities for automated freight, including potential benefits to reduce congestion and improve road safety and traffic flow, and is a continuation of Transurban’s work in this area. Automated transport technologies are going to transform the way we move goods around cities, and with vital connections between ports and other freight hubs, our roads offer ideal conditions to facilitate this new technology.”

Tien-Ti Mak, General Manager for Strategic Innovation at Transurban, said: “Transurban roads are some of the most technologically sophisticated in the world, and we’re excited to combine our infrastructure and operational expertise with Plus’s innovative technology to bring the benefits of automated freight one step closer. The adoption of self-driving trucks in specific environments can have positive outcomes for Victoria by improving road safety, increasing productivity, reducing congestion and importantly, creating jobs for the future.”

“At Plus, we have seen first-hand through our global deployments the transformational impact that our autonomous driving solutions can have on transportation to improve safety, efficiency and sustainability,” said Shawn Kerrigan, Co-Founder and COO at Plus. “We are delighted to partner with Transurban to drive autonomous trucking development in Australia to the next level, and show the unparalleled benefits in road safety and operational efficiency delivered by a collaboration between the world’s most advanced autonomous driving software and smart infrastructure provider.”

Paul Guerra, CEO for Victorian Chamber of Commerce, said: “We congratulate Transurban on this wonderful initiative. Through driving a culture of innovation, Victoria attracts talent, investment, and businesses. Not to mention tens of billions of dollars in local industry revenue. Fostering an innovation ecosystem and supporting start-ups is a strategic pillar for meaningful employment and economic prosperity, as we look to ‘future-proof’ the workforce of Victoria. We recognise that this support is vital for economic growth, job creation and the productivity of the State.”