We know new energy sources, vehicles and business models will transform transport over the next 40 years.
During 2016 the NSW Government launched the Future Transport Technology Roadmap.
The Roadmap has two main aims: unlocking the full value of our transport networks, and customising and personalising transport services to create a better experience for our customers.
The Roadmap gathered a lot of interest and was updated this year.
Our aim this year is to integrate this Roadmap into a broader transport strategy for the future because transport is a technology business that serves customers, communities and business.
We are now exploring these topics further raised by the Roadmap’s five strategies that broadly cover:
- Personalised customer interactions
- Transformed transit systems
- On-demand services
- Automated and connected vehicles
- Smart use of data.
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Automated vehicles (often known as ‘driverless vehicles’) are ones where some or all aspects of driving are performed by the vehicle rather than the driver, such as steering, accelerating or braking.
Connected vehicles are ones that use wireless technology to communicate with the road and other vehicles. This technology can be a powerful tool for making traffic flow better and preventing accidents.
Fully connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) are ones that are totally self-driving and don’t require any human monitoring. These are referred to as Level 5 CAVs.
There are many different predictions on when Level 5 CAVs will be the norm on our roads, but many expect this to occur by about 2035. Because there is the potential for CAVs to work as shared vehicles, you won’t necessarily need to buy your own.
We need to think about what impact they will have on our roads and how governments need to prepare, such as making new road laws and building new connected road infrastructure.
For CAVs to be effective, their computer systems need to have highly accurate data on the location of other vehicles. They need to know their own location to the nearest millimetre and they need to know the location of other vehicles hundreds of metres away. Any error in this data could result in serious accidents.
Such data can only be gathered with a network of smart or intelligent transport and town systems around the roadways, landscape and in satellites.
Given the complexity of this smart infrastructure, it is likely that CAVs would be introduced in stages – starting, for instance, in public transport and then progressively being rolled out in defined parts of cities and towns. But with 207,000kms of roads around NSW, rolling out CAVs across the state will require a lot of planning and a large investment in new infrastructure.
Are CAVs safer than normal vehicles?
By removing human error and anticipating dangers CAVs have enormous potential to make drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians safer.
Other factors need to considered and CAVs could also bring risks. For example, failures in a wireless network or smart system could result in sudden loss of connectivity between vehicles and roads. How the future cars and occupants would respond to this needs to be investigated and discussed.
Data will be the foundation of personalised transport. This data will come from customers, transport networks and infrastructure, vehicles, plus an increasing number of industry and third party sources.
Using this data we will be able to optimise the capacity of the transport network to influence transit patterns and flows in response to changes in customer demand, and use predictive maintenance to better manage costs of infrastructure.
We will need to digitise our networks and assets so our transport infrastructure is ready to support the next generation of intelligent vehicles and services.
In the future you may not want to own a vehicle
Owning a car or vehicle is common across Australia, with many families owning more than one. But sentiments are showing signs of potential change. The future will be about ease of travel and comfort and the selection from personalised options. There could be potential alternatives to 100% ownership through car sharing or syndicated vehicle programs. How this could evolve will depend on many factors including customer behaviour and demand over the next decade.
Over the coming years a wide variety of vehicles of all sizes will emerge.
High capacity autonomous buses will continue to provide important trunk route services, but the local and feeder services will be on-demand personalised services.
New type vehicles will pick you up from your home or location and then connect you to a hub to catch a larger vehicle or a train, or they can drop you off at your destination point. This will also improve accessibility to mobility services for a range of people.
Affordable bicycles co-powered by rechargeable motors and able to accommodate hills and terrain could become more widely acceptable and transform transport.
Demand for networks of cycle laneways connecting interchanges offering various modes of transport, main streets, green spaces and service centres will encourage higher levels of participation and larger ‘catchment’ areas for this mode.
The NSW Government has committed to an aspirational objective of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
The impact of electric cars will coincide as cars are also becoming more connected and autonomous. This will also drive new energy infrastructure needs for vehicles.
Petrol stations as we know them now will be superseded by energy and battery exchange hubs. Many cars will be charged at home or at garage facilities when not in use. This will coincide with greater decentralised energy and utility services where renewable energy is locally generated and stored.
Electric vehicles could offer people living in rural and regional NSW savings as they often drive long distances.
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