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NZ's first self-driving car hits road

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/11/2016

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

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 15-kilometre 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", meaning the car will accelerate, brake and steer, but with the driver intervening if necessary and still responsible for the car.

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

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