Shifting transport into the future
Kathryn Fagg: The transport sector could benefit greatly from the embrace of technology
Creating a framework to regulate new transport technologies was one of four recommendations a new report by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering has made after examining the tech readiness of the Australian transport sector.
The release of the Shifting Gears – Preparing for a Transport Revolution report points the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) toward setting nationally consistent standards and regulations for transport. This would include standards for data sharing and data privacy about what information is collected, when it should be shared, and what can be shared for forensic purposes.
The release of the recommendations follows an investigation chaired by CSIRO director Kathryn Fagg and former Secretary to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Drew Clarke.
Ms Fagg said given Australia’s unique geographic characteristics, the transport sector could benefit greatly from the embrace of new technologies.
“Failure to be prepared will risk a decline in many aspects of our Australian way of life and society, including increased congestion and vehicle-related emissions, a deterioration in health, safety and security, and a negative impact on the cost of living, productivity and the ease of mobility,” Ms Fagg said.
“Australia is performing well on a number of readiness indicators and is well place to capitalise on the coming technology revolution, but we need to make smart, strategic decisions to keep pace with the technological frontier.”
According to Mr Clarke, the findings uncovered that sustainability and climate change, productivity, and health were three key challenges that will need to be addressed within the transport sector over the next decade.
“Specifically, the transport sector will need to lower emissions, improve the efficient movement of people and freight, and reduce transport-related deaths and serious injuries,” he said.
“The deployment of connected autonomous vehicles, low and zero-emission vehicles, high-frequency mass transport and intelligent transport systems are potential solutions to these challenges.”
The project also recommended the federal government implement policies to reduce vehicle emissions and to encourage the uptake of lower emission vehicles (LEVs) in Australia.
The report outlined how this should driven by a national target, as well as industry leading the way in the uptake of LEVs by importing vehicles that meet emissions standards set by the government.
The report added how federal and state governments should establish grant programs that encourage trials of transport technologies so that Australia does not miss the benefits of technology because it does not yet meet the needs of the country’s geographic and climatic conditions
Other recommendations that were made included the need to prepare the workforce for the transition to future transport models.
This includes strengthening teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in primary and secondary schools and seeing universities and VET institutions work with industry to promote course options to ensure relevant skills are being developed to meet the demands of the future transport sector.
The transport sector is the first industry to be examined under the three-year long Australian Research Council Learned Academies Special Projects-funded research program.
Each program will examine the readiness of different industries to develop, adapt, and adopt new technologies over the next decade.