Volvo adds NZ to its list of driverless car demos

Tauranga trial being hailed as a "significant milestone" for New Zealand.

New Zealand will get its first official demonstration of driverless car technology before the end of the year. But Australia will pip us to the post by about 10 days.

European carmaker Volvo has organised demonstrations on both sides of the Tasman in November.

On November 7 and 8, it will show off its latest technology on an expressway south of Adelaide, to coincide with an International Driverless Cars Conference at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

The demonstration is being described as the first on-road trial of driverless cars in the southern hemisphere.

Ten days later, Volvo has organised a similar demonstration on a 10-15km stretch of public road in Tauranga as part of the national Trafinz transport conference.

It is expected to use its XC90 SUV for the demonstrations — the same vehicle it is showcasing elsewhere.

According to Volvo, the New Zealand demonstration will take place in a “real world” environment with other motorists, with driver interaction only required at the halfway point of the trip.

Volvo, which was sold by Ford to China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in 2010, has been keen to showcase its driverless technology around the world.  It has announced that it is keen to begin testing in London and Sweden next year, and is also hoping to sign up a city in China.

It has also partnered with Uber in Pittsburgh.  This week, Uber began allowing the public to hail its driverless cars in Pittsburgh while they are being tested on the roads.

Developments in autonomous vehicles are, in fact, being announced almost daily. Trials of automated taxis have just begun in Singapore and Australia’s first driverless shuttle bus began trials this week on the foreshore in south Perth.

South Australia claims it has already legalised the use of driverless cars on its roads, but in most countries, regulators are still grappling with the potential implications.

At this stage, that means that driverless cars must still have a driver — even in Pittsburgh.

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