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CAVs will change the way we travel

Connected and Automated Vehicles Plan

CAVs will change the way we travel

Transforming mobility and reshaping urban centres

Connectivity and automation are distinct technologies, developing in parallel and converging to offer greater benefits. Together they will enable safer, smoother and more reliable journeys for passengers, and more efficient and productive freight movement.

Connected, automated, electric and shared mobility services will provide a wider range of transport options. Automated ridesharing services may offer customers affordable and convenient point to point journeys and flexible, on-demand public transport. This would improve first and last-mile connections and enhance mobility for people in underserved areas.

CAVs could drop you off and park themselves, or move on to the next ridesharing passenger. This would help to reduce congestion, the need for on-street and off-street parking, the need to own a car, and help to create more liveable urban centres.

Buses and trucks could run together in 'platoons' – linked by technologies and travelling close together in convoys, led by a human-controlled vehicle, to improve productivity and lower costs.

Small, footpath-based automated vehicles could handle many last-mile freight deliveries, helping to reduce congestion, cut costs for people and businesses and offer faster access to goods, particularly out of normal business hours, as long as pedestrian safety is addressed. These could also support 'hub and spoke' models of freight deliveries, aided by centralised distribution and storage – flow-on effects will improve efficiency and productivity in freight movements, particularly in urban centres. Smaller, cleaner and quieter vehicles will also be more suited to developing high-quality mixed use urban environments and 24/7 commercial operations.

In the coming years, CAV technologies will support a growing variety of passenger and freight vehicles of all sizes, using technology in different ways, to serve different customer needs in different places.

CAVs may also potentially change the way our urban centres operate – requiring fewer traffic signals, signage, kerbs and lines to guide the movement of cars (i.e. reduce 'street clutter'), as well as less parking to make extra space for street trees, cycleways and wider footways.

Preparing for a range of outcomes

CAVs may take some years to emerge and become widely adopted for a range of uses. Australian and global estimates of the adoption of fully automated vehicles range from 30 per cent to 100 per cent of total vehicles by 2036.

How the community uses the technology is hard to predict and will be influenced by many factors, such as personal attitudes, costs and security concerns. The National Transport Commission estimates that there could be up to 1.7 million conditionally and highly automated vehicles (levels 3 and 4) in the Australian fleet by 2020 (9 per cent of total fleet), and almost 9.5 million by 2030 (42 per cent of total fleet).11

In our Future Transport Technology Roadmap, we identified four scenarios for how the evolution of CAVs and other technologies could bring about different outcomes for customers and the wider community, the urban and regional environment, and how we live and do business beyond 2030.

The four scenarios below show how alternative trends and behaviours around private versus shared use, and how CAVs integrate with public transport, create different benefits and challenges – leading to different outcomes around demand, congestion and sustainability.


In the first scenario, high levels of personal car ownership and private use continue to grow, with limited use of shared services. This could lead to high levels of individual convenience, but less use of public transport and an increase in congestion as a result, even with CAVs. The demand for parking could potentially increase and there will be increasing pressure to release more land for roads to support the growth in traffic.

In the second and third scenarios, the network is built around advanced, optimised and heavily integrated public and shared transport. CAVs are a central feature of the second scenario, but not the third. These scenarios could lead to a much cheaper and more environmentally friendly network, and potentially reduced congestion and need for parking. There is also increased potential to improve liveability and better balance movement and place objectives. However, they would require significant investment and changes in customers’ travel habits.

In the fourth scenario, technology enables and encourages more people to work, shop, learn and socialise from home or closer to home in local centres. This could reduce the amount people travel, support more responsive transport services that can adapt to meet changing customer needs, and grow demand for last-mile freight deliveries.

The evolution of CAVs will be shaped by a broad range of human responses. The future will be a blend of these scenarios, and we do not yet know which may come to dominate the future of mobility. However, this CAV Plan sets out directions and actions that prepare for and capture the benefits of CAVs in a range of potential outcomes, while providing future flexibility.

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