Here at the Department of Transport and Main Roads we are putting a lot of thought into what transport is going to look like in the future, to make sure we make good planning and policy decisions for the State.
To manage the risks and capture the benefits of emerging vehicle technologies, we are looking both the policy and planning around technology such as Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) and Autonomous Vehicles, but also the practical implications for Queensland’s road users.
We are also looking at the long term implications of these technologies on our transport network – what sort of infrastructure will be needed, and how much?
Imagine climbing on a bus and travelling 32km through traffic – with no-one at the wheel. That is exactly what a group of journalists did in Henan Province in China last year.
Google self-driving cars have completed more than 1 million kilometres of test driving in California, and self-driving trucks are being tested in Nevada.
Smart vehicles may seem like something from a sci-fi movie, but their precursors are already on the market in Australia, with such smart features as park assist and lane-change technology. Whilst wide deployment of fully automated vehicles may still be 10 or so years off, the generation who will use smart vehicles has already been born.
So what does that mean for Queensland?
It means that transport as we know could look very, very different. Car ownership, use and design could look very different in the future. For instance, if you are not in control of the vehicle, will you require a licence?
Imagine the convenience of your own personalised public transport service. It could drop the kids off at school, and if you forgotten something at the shops it could be easily home delivered. There are many things that impact our day to day lives that would operate differently.
Of course this will not happen overnight but these things all become possible, just as technology such as ATMs, email and GPS have become ubiquitous.
So there are many potential benefits that could be derived from the take up of these disruptive technologies.
I look forward to keeping you in the loop on this work as it progresses. In the meantime, you might be interested in checking out these links:
- London trial of self-driving pods
- Autonomous trucks in Nevada
- World’s first Driverless bus trial in China
- Volvo’s self driving car
- Autonomous vehicles – CNET
Chief Economist, Transport and Main Roads