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Suncorp revs up automated vehicles research

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Suncorp will participate in a research project testing automated vehicle safety after signing a partnership with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

As part of the partnership, the company will insure a purpose-built $1.5 million Renault ZOE2, classified as a level four automated vehicle, which means it is capable of self-driving in certain areas with a person able to take back manual control.

The vehicle has a permit to operate on pre-defined roads under the supervision of qualified engineers and is being tested through a pilot program launched by the Queensland Government.

Suncorp says understanding how autonomous vehicles work in real environments, including the interaction between new technology and existing vehicles and infrastructure, is crucial to assessing risks.

“While the rollout of technology is advancing, there’ll likely be long periods where there will be a mix of traditional and more autonomous vehicles on the roads,” EM Consumer Products Joshua Kelland said today.

“The data-driven insights from this trial will form the base for an ongoing partnership and further learning opportunities. It will allow us to adapt and evolve our digital insurance solutions to meet the emerging needs of our customers.”

The Queensland Government’s research project involves the Motor Accident Insurance Commission, iMove Co-operative Research Centre and the QUT Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q).

CARRS-Q Director Andry Rakotonirainy says the testing will investigate how road users accept, adopt and co-operate with new automated systems and help identify policy and regulatory challenges.

Issues that governments and the insurance industry are grappling with include ensuring that road infrastructure, legislation, regulation and licensing arrangements are ready for the vehicles and how insurance arrangements will be affected.

The test vehicle, which has a top speed of 50 kph when automated and 130 kph under manual operation, has undergone extensive off-road testing and analysis at Queensland’s Mount Cotton Driver Training Centre.

“Consumers are already becoming increasingly comfortable with new ways of travelling, from ride sharing to electric scooters, so it is very exciting to be involved in the next evolution,” Mr Kelland said.