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Miranda Blogg of the Department of Transport and Main Roads, on how Queensland is preparing for cooperative and automated vehicle technologies


here has been a lot of attention on automated vehicles (AV) in the media lately. The increased utility of robots

driving us to and from work, picking up our children, or getting us home from a night out is all too intriguing. Uber and Volvo teamed-up to offer the driverless Uber service in Pittsburgh, and only marginally missed being the first after Singapore’s NuTonomy driverless taxi trial went live a few weeks ago (noting both are small trials with trained drivers). This is a huge mile- stone – the future, it seems, is already here. A report by Morgan Stanley in 2013

estimated potential global savings from AVs of up to AU$6 trillion annually. These savings would be due to improved fuel economy, increased productivity for AV occupants, reduced congestion and a decline in crashes. However, the report also recognises a number of issues, such as liability, customer acceptance, infra- structure and government regulation that will need to be overcome in order to realise these benefits. There will also be significant impacts on a range of exist- ing industries such as the health system, rehabilitation sector, automotive repair industry, bus and taxi drivers, insurance industry and so forth. As a step towards unpacking the

policy implications, the Department of Transport and Main Roads in Queensland commissioned TransPosition to prepare an AV transport model for Southeast Queensland. Modelling suggests that if cars continue to be predominantly privately owned, AVs could potentially lead to people travelling further and more often due to reduced costs and


increased convenience of travel. This is because the costs associated with own- ership (such as purchase price, insurance and vehicle registration) are borne by the owner and generally paid upfront. Consequently, the cost of an additional trip is comparatively very low. This behavioural change could result in

model would be significantly less than the cost of current comparable travel in a pri- vately owned vehicle. TransPosition estimates that once fully

autonomous vehicles are mass produced, the annual cost of using a shared AV for an average user would be between AU$5,000 and AU$6,000 (this includes the

“A truly smart city is a connected city, where data is readily shared between systems, infrastructure, people, and vehicles, providing a range of government and customer services”

increased congestion and urban sprawl, as well as a decline in public transport and active transport mode share. AVs, coupled with the growth of the

sharing economy, have the potential to drive a shift from private ownership of vehicles to a transport-on-demand para- digm. Such a model would see people trav- elling predominantly in shared AVs and/or AV equipped passenger transport modes on an as-needed, pay-per-use basis. When costs associated with vehicle ownership are taken into account, the annual cost to a traveller under a transport-on-demand


additional cost of AV technology) and is based on the assumption that the major- ity of AVs will also be electric vehicles. This compares favourably with the estimated annual cost of travel in a privately owned vehicle, ranging from around AU$7,000 per year for a light car to US$12,000 per year for a large car.

EVERYTHING CONNECTED Another on trend topic is “smart cities”. A truly smart city is a connected city, where data is readily shared between systems, infrastructure, people, and vehicles, pro-

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