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Wireless technology to warn cars at level crossings of oncoming trains - potentially eliminating collisions and saving lives - could be ready to roll out in three years, researchers say.
La Trobe University in Melbourne is developing the technology, to be trialled in 100 vehicles.
The trial, to begin next year, should be completed by the end of 2012, the head of the $4 million project Jack Singh said.
The system uses wireless and GPS technology to broadcast a visual and audio warning in vehicles approaching level crossings when a train is expected.
he technology would also advise drivers of alternative routes, said Mr Singh, the university's Director of the Centre for Technology Infusion.
"We hope to start rolling it out at a number of crossings in 2012," Mr Singh told AAP.
He said when a train approached a level crossing, all cars in the area with the technology installed would receive a warning.
It is expected the technology to advise drivers will eventually be built into new vehicles, but Mr Singh said it could also be retrofitted in cars.
A senior manager with Victoria's Department of Transport, Terry Spicer, said the project could save lives.
"This technology has the potential to significantly reduce and ultimately eliminate collisions, injuries and fatalities at level crossings," Mr Spicer said in a statement.
He said the project would help the government meet recommendations made by a parliamentary inquiry into improving level crossings.
The transport department is a partner in the project, along with the Australian Automotive Co-operative Research Centre (AutoCRC) and the Queensland University of Technology.
The Victorian government contributed $500,000 to the project, with additional funds provided by the AutoCRC and several rail industry partners.
La Trobe's Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Professor Tim Brown, said Intelligent Transport Systems were a high priority worldwide.
He said the Chinese automotive industry was expanding rapidly and seeking new technology to boost exports of its products.
The university and the AutoCRC in May signed a $260,000 automotive research and training agreement with two Chinese universities - Tongji University in Shanghai and Tsinghua University in Beijing.
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