Volvo to test self-driving car in Tauranga

Vids 06/09/2016

A self-driving car will be tested in traffic on a public road in Tauranga later this year, Swedish auto giant Volvo says.

The Volvo will hit the 10 to 15km stretch of road, alongside other motorists, during the New Zealand Traffic Institute conference in November, it was revealed on Tuesday.

The only driver input will be at the half-way point of the trip.

It will be the first official test of "autonomous driving" in New Zealand and Volvo claims the technology will reduce crashes, congestion and stress.

"Our research shows around nine in every ten crashes have a driver causation error component and the reality is, self-driving cars simply do not get distracted," Volvo's Anders Eugensson said.

"We believe this technology will greatly reduce the number of collisions on New Zealand roads while also improving efficiency."

The demonstration still needs approval from the New Zealand Transport Agency and is planned for November 18. 

Transport Minister Simon Bridges welcomed the announcement and said the ministry and NZTA were working with Volvo to make sure the trial operated within law and was safe.

He said the test would also help them gain better understanding of how the technology would work in a New Zealand environment.

"Autonomous vehicles will be a big part of the future of transport and offer potential safety, efficiency and environmental benefits," he said.