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Autonomous freight platooning plans in NSW

The New South Wales Government is exploring the possibilities of autonomous trucks with freight movements expected to double across metropolitan areas and by up to 25 per cent in the bush by 2056, according to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Transport Minister, Andrew Constance, has reportedly unveiled a regional transport plan at Ballina that would suggest that driverless freight trucks could be a common sight on New South Wales roads in the future.

"Certainly in terms of safety, first and foremost, it will be a big change," said Constance. "And we are working to make sure that with the advent of autonomous vehicles, particularly in the bush, we do actually look at what's required in an infrastructure sense."

Roads Minister, Melinda Pavey, reportedly told the ABC that she would prefer autonomous vehicle trials to be conducted in regional New South Wales.

"That is the area that is probably weaker in our road safety statistics and we want to see that improved," said Pavey. "And it is vital that regional communities are part of it and we are not scared about how it's going to change things because it's going to make the roads safer."

She reportedly said the state introduced legislation in the past few months so it could be ready for this change.

"Our officials are watching what's happening throughout the world,” said Pavey.

“We want to be part of it, we don't want to make it complicated if anybody wants to come in and bring autonomous vehicle technology that's going to make it safer on our roads.

"It's contrary to our own instincts to think it would be safe without a driver behind the wheel but we must remember that 94 per cent of all accidents involve human error and if we can harness the latest technology, we can actually save lives and drive the road toll down,” she said.

The ABC has said that the concept contained in the draft regional transport plan will be open for community comment until 3 December.

In July, Viva Energy said that autonomous and platooning truck technology will become prevalent on Australian roads in less than 20 years while Kings Transport CEO, Tony Mellick, questioned whether the country's infrastructure would be ready.

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