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Future mobility and services

Future Transport Strategy

Connected and automated vehicles

The automation of light passenger vehicles is the next big game-changer in terms of safety and efficiency, and unlocking new service models

Connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) are exciting technologies that could help us address current and future challenges around the safe and efficient movement of people and freight, improve transport services and experiences for customers, and achieve better outcomes for citizens and places. 

In the coming years, CAV technologies will support a growing variety of passenger and freight vehicles of all sizes to serve different customer needs in different places. CAVs have the potential to offer our customers a broader range of flexible travel options and safer, smoother and faster journeys. CAVs can also be used for certain freight operations, for example in first- and last-mile delivery applications.

CAVs may change the way our centres operate, as they require fewer traffic signals, signage, kerbs and lines to guide their movement, potentially reducing unnecessary ‘street clutter’. As CAVs require less parking infrastructure, extra space could also be made available for trees, cycleways and wider footpaths.

The expected major benefits of CAVs include safety and network efficiency.

A wholly automated vehicle fleet could dramatically improve safety on our network by removing the risk of human error, which is estimated to be a contributing factor in 90 per cent of vehicle crashes, together with a lack of vehicle and road protections that would prevent trauma. 

In terms of network efficiency, being ‘connected’ will likely allow CAVs to safely travel closer together, behave cooperatively and avoid incidents that often disrupt traffic flow. This could result in faster and more reliable journeys for customers and reduced congestion.

The benefits promised by CAVs are highly dependent on the progression of the technology and the value of the use cases that the technology can deliver. Transport for NSW is working closely with industry to be at the leading edge of this technology, in order to fast track its adoption where it will help us deliver outcomes for our customers in areas like safety, mobility and productivity. 

Further benefits include supporting flexible, affordable journey options for customers, enhancing connections between people and places, reducing the need for parking, and improving the efficiency of freight movements. CAVs will also enhance accessibility and social inclusion for transport customers, and reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

Our Connected and Automated Vehicles Plan builds on these opportunities and outlines how we will achieve the customer, community, productivity and place outcomes that may be delivered by CAVs.

In focus

NSW automated vehicle trials

The NSW Government is partnering with industry, customers and communities on autonomous vehicle trials in Sydney and regional areas.

Smart Shuttle trial at Sydney Olympic Park

NSW's first connected and highly automated Smart Shuttle trial at Sydney Olympic Park, has transported over 4,500 passengers. In an Australian first, two automated shuttles integrated with traffic lights and four digital bus stops, provided a regular turn-up-and-go shuttle service. Successful traffic light integration of two shuttles laid the foundation for V2I (Vehicle to Infrastructure) connectivity.

Connected and automated vehicle trials in Armidale and Coffs Harbour

Transport is partnering with industry, researchers, local councils and businesses to co-deliver CAV trials in Armidale and Coffs Harbour to test emerging technologies in regional settings, assess the potential for these vehicles to improve road safety outcomes, and provide more flexible services for regional communities. 

In Dubbo we are retrofitting an off the shelf ute with self-driving capabilities, and exploring on-demand and connected technology features.

Continue collaboration with the industry

We are working with the University of Sydney to conduct on-road research and development of technologies. The trial will help Transport for NSW better understand how CAVs will interact with their environment in the future, and how vehicle systems can be developed to safely deploy CAVs onto our road network.

Trials such as these will provide sound evidence to enable government to consider the associated benefits and risks of CAVs, including the cost of transitioning to automated systems, cyber security and upskilling our workforce. Trials can also help us understand how CAVs will interact with other precinct users, such as pedestrians and bike riders, and the broader transport network.

NSW Connected and Automated Vehicles Plan

In January 2019, the NSW Government launched a Connected and Automated Vehicles Plan, setting out our priorities and actions for the next five years to enable and prepare for the introduction of connected and automated vehicles and ensure the predicted community benefits from these new technologies, and the new services they support, are realised.

The Road Safety Plan 2021 includes actions to support the development and uptake of new and emerging vehicles and other road safety technologies. To help deliver these actions, the NSW Government has established a new facility in Central Western NSW at Cudal, to test new and emerging vehicle technologies, such as autonomous emergency braking, speed assist systems, communication between cars and traffic infrastructure, and the development of smart highways.

The new facility at Cudal, about 30 minutes from Orange, is NSW’s newest five-star safety testing facility in addition to the established CrashLab facility at Huntingwood. Facilities at Cudal include extensive workshops, world-class test track and equipment, and also scope to expand operations further. Future plans for the facility will allow technicians to test and refine emerging technologies, such as vehicle-to-traffic signal communications and complex vehicle-to-vehicle systems.


Future directions to investigate

  • Continue to conduct passenger and freight CAV trials across NSW to test possible uses and benefits from immediate applications and service trials, and investigate longer-term uses in challenging operating environments.
  • Adopt a strategic approach to preparing for and accelerating the adoption of CAVs for new services, improved safety and network performance, reduced congestion and better incident management.
  • Identify infrastructure enhancements needed to support CAV operations, including appropriate road infrastructure and CAV drop-off facilities at centres and interchanges. 
  • Work with other jurisdictions to identify and implement the digital and physical infrastructure needed to support CAVs.
  • Continue to work with governments in Australia to develop a national regulatory framework for the safe deployment of CAVs. 
  • Continue working with industry and universities to help us guide and manage the transition to CAVs.
  • Engage and educate the public on CAVs.
  • Develop a NSW Freight CAV policy.
  • Develop a NSW Electric Freight Vehicle Policy and encourage the greater use of electric vehicles in the freight task.
  • Establish pipelines for industry development and upskilling the workforce.
  • Identify appropriate policy and regulatory mechanisms to ensure CAVs support Future Transport principles and NSW Government priorities.
  • Support the NSW Innovation Strategy to manage workforce transition as automation increases.

Six principles for Future Transport

The Future Transport 2056 Strategy is focused on six key principles for the future of mobility in the state, which together aim to positively impact the economy, communities and environment of NSW.

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