Getting ready for a connected future

ITS conference

The digitisation of transport will change the environment in which Transport and Main Roads operates, and we are adapting our business in response.

Innovation is a core value for my department, and I encourage our people to be agile, creative, and courageous in a rapidly changing world.

As a part of this commitment to innovation, we were proud to co-host this week’s Connected Autonomy in Smart Cities: intelligent transport systems (ITS) summit in partnership with ITS Australia.

About 220 Australian and International delegates from government, academia and industry came together in Brisbane to discuss automated and connected vehicles and smart cities.

The internet of things, vehicle automation, big data and smart cities – these are all expected to play a critical role in revolutionising transport safety, and making our roads safer, greener and more efficient.

But to do so, the convergence of automation and connectivity is needed to support a truly driverless vehicle.

Some vehicles already have automated driving features – even some of the cheaper cars entering the market – and vehicles are becoming increasingly connected to the internet.

An automated vehicle that is not connected has promising benefits on its own, but when it is connected to other vehicles and infrastructure, the benefits are potentially huge.

By learning from other vehicles and road infrastructure, a connected car can in effect see around corners, and know, for instance, that there is a hazard further down the road.

This means vehicles can travel much more closely, potentially doubling the capacity of our roads.

And vehicles can share data co-operatively to predict and negotiate with other users, which will further reduce crashes and provide the opportunity to optimise our transport network by managing traffic flows.

It is predicted more than 25 percent of all vehicles globally will be connected to other vehicles, systems and-or infrastructure by 2020.

Across TMR, we are busy exploring what these advancements mean to our customers, what the barriers are, and how we can adapt quickly.

Queensland has a rich history of safety innovation that has contributed to a reduction in fatal crashes – such as speed limits, roundabouts, seatbelts, and drink-driving enforcement to name a few.

I believe connected and automated vehicles have great potential to improve road safety outcomes.

Research suggests about 90 percent of road crashes are caused by human error. This is an eye-opening number that has not been confirmed yet through international trials – but at a minimum this technology should reduce alcohol, distraction, drug involvement and/or fatigue related crashes.

As vehicles get smarter, there is a greater reliance on government to play our part – though policy, legislation, data, and infrastructure.

Here at TMR, we are working hard to stay at the forefront of this revolution – and events such as this week’s summit provide valuable opportunities for information sharing on an International stage.

Neil Scales OBE
Director General
Transport and Main Roads