Technology trial to transmit safety messages

  • Craig Foss
  • Simon Bridges

Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss today announced a trial of Bluetooth technology to deliver audio safety messages to rental car drivers on the popular Christchurch to Queenstown route.

The trial is being run by the NZ Transport Agency, in partnership with HMI Technologies and GO Rentals. It will see safety messages sent from roadside transmitters, via Bluetooth, to devices fitted in rental vehicles.

The trial will run from 2 July along the key route between Christchurch and Queenstown with GO Rentals customers who volunteer to take part.

“This innovative trial shows how intelligent technology has the potential to improve the safety and resilience of our existing transport network. If the trial is successful the initiative may continue along the route and be implemented in other parts of New Zealand,” Mr Bridges says.

“The New Zealand designed transmitters are in remote locations where there is no mobile coverage. This feature, and the use of Bluetooth technology, makes the trial the first of its kind in New Zealand for in-vehicle messaging.

“It is exciting to see a combined Government-industry approach to solving technology challenges unique to the New Zealand roading environment.”

Up to 50 devices, capable of receiving more than 70 safety and real-time messages along both directions of the route, will be installed in GO Rental vehicles.

“While the trial does not specifically target visiting drivers, Visiting Driver Signature project partners, led by the NZ Transport Agency, will assess whether this service could be added to their suite of safety measures,” Mr Foss says.

“This technology has the potential to improve safety outcomes in remote locations, which are draw-cards for many overseas visitors.

“If the trial is successful, a second step could be to create a mobile phone application that allows communication with the vehicle’s internal audio system, making the initiative more accessible to all road users.

“The NZ Transport Agency is also investigating integrating the system more seamlessly with a vehicle’s internal GPS system.”

Audio has been chosen as the safest method of delivering the messages, which range from safety reminders about road conditions and New Zealand road rules, to suggestions about good places to break the journey and travel times to the next destination.