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. Capitalising on our roads' capabilities, we’re delivering a new autonomous truck trial in Melbourne, Australia.

Trial partners

  • Plus, a global Silicon Valley-based autonomous driving software company
  • IVECO, commercial vehicle manufacturer

Why we’re trialling autonomous freight

The Port of Melbourne is Australia’s busiest container port and, as Melbourne grows, so will the demand for cargo – and its delivery. There are substantial challenges ahead for the freight industry, which will require a range of innovative solutions – autonomous trucking is one potential solution. Autonomous trucking, limited to 'middle-mile' routes on managed motorways has the potential to deliver positive economic and social benefits, including reducing heavy vehicle impacts, improving road safety and reducing freight costs.

This trial, which started in Victoria in April 2024, will test:

  • how autonomous trucking may fit within the Australian road-freight landscape
  • how on-road technology can enhance the autonomous driving system, by providing detailed, real-time data on road and traffic conditions beyond what the vehicle could "see" by itself.

Building on past trial experience

This trial is a step up from our first Automated Truck Trial. This Australian-first trial saw a highly automated truck drive itself along sections of CityLink and the Monash Freeway in Melbourne.

In the current trial, data from our roads supplements the truck’s onboard sensors, enabling it to ‘see’ more of the road and respond to conditions as needed.

Bringing this potential future freight solution onto our roads now will help Transurban and our partners prepare for a future of more connected and autonomous travel.

Trial timing

After rigorous testing, the trial commenced in April 2024.

Trial components

  • two IVECO S-WAY AS550 trucks
  • trucks factory-fitted with hardware and software (the autonomous driving system) by Plus
  • driving at night, in a virtual dedicated lane
  • road and traffic condition data shared in real-time directly to the operating vehicles
  • supervising driver and engineer on-board at all times
  • dedicated traffic control room supervision.

Level 4 autonomy

The two IVECO trucks are fitted with sensors, cameras and other self-driving technology, and driven by Plus's world-leading Level 4 autonomous driving technology.

Level 4 autonomy means the vehicle’s automated driving system are in total control – navigating motorway entries, changing lanes, driving inside tunnels, observing traffic lights and responding to any traffic condition they’re presented with along the way.

Highly experienced heavy-vehicle drivers are on board throughout, ready to take control if needed and in line with safety protocols.

Road technology

The world-class road technology embedded in Transurban roads, and along the planned route, is an essential element of this trial. Autonomous trucks’ sensors detect what’s immediately around them – and road technology can extend the truck’s ‘view’ of the road. 

We'll be sharing real-time data such as speed-limit changes and lane availability, along with roadwork, incident and debris locations – data that can enhance autonomous operations by providing a clearer picture of travel conditions.

Our trial will test how road-technology data helps the trial trucks adjust to live traffic conditions as they drive their routes.

Dynamic dedicated lanes

Another technology employed in the trial is dynamic dedicated lane management. The trucks drive in a dedicated lane and we progressively close and reopen this lane as the trucks travel along their route. This creates a safety buffer around the trucks as they drive without closing an entire lane for the trial’s operation. 


Trial route

The trial route will expand incrementally, with time on road and distance travelled in autonomous mode increasing over time, in line with safety protocols.

The full route extends from the Port of Melbourne, along CityLink through the Burnley Tunnel and the Monash Freeway to Dandenong and back again.

This trial builds on our previous, successful automated truck trial, when an autonomous truck safely drove itself, in total, more than 370 kilometres along sections of CityLink and the Monash Freeway.

Recording during trial activities

To facilitate the trial, cameras have been installed in the Cook St and Portlink Dr areas, which will be intermittently recording during trial activities when the vehicles are on the road. All footage containing identifiable information including faces and Licence Plate Numbers (LPNs) will be deleted in 90 days in accordance with Transurban’s privacy requirements.