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Prime Mover Magazine

Driverless vehicle technology takes centre stage

To coincide with its red-carpet presence at this week’s CeBIT Australia conference in Sydney, the Australia and New Zealand Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI) has released two key thought-leadership papers on parking and transport planning opportunities from driverless vehicle technology.

According to Rita Excell, ADVI Executive Director, the introduction of driverless vehicles is approaching rapidly and would ultimately underpin the creation of entirely new city structure and architecture, making it critical to recognise this disruptive technology as a central element in future transport planning

“Because most vehicles typically sit idle for 96 per cent of the time it creates a lot of wasted parking spaces in the city, streets and homes,” she said. “We can expect multi-storey car parks being transformed into community spaces, on-street parking becoming a walk or cycle lane, and home garages being used as green space or extra living area instead.

“Instead of annual insurance, registration and running costs, people will be able to book a vehicle to pick them up and take them to a specific location – which means they will still have the convenience of an on-call car, without ongoing costs and parking challenges.

“We are already seeing an increasing number of people preferring mobility-as-a-service, which has seen the likes of Go Get and Car Next Door responding to commuter need for an alternative to owning your own vehicle. While the demand for mass public transit will continue, driverless vehicles offer significant cost advantages over public transport, especially for first and last mile services.

“The major challenge facing urban and regional transport planners is that they normally rely on age-old quantitative data sets to inform future infrastructure investment, but that fails to recognise disruptive technologies like driverless vehicles.”

The ADVI stand at the CeBIT event will allow delegates to view a state-of-the art driverless mobility pod from the UK-based RDM Group, as well as a Volvo fitted with autonomous vehicle technology, which is being used in driverless vehicle trials across the country.

Meanwhile, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has called for independent, no-blame, safety investigations into road crashes involving heavy or autonomous vehicles, in its recent submission to the House of Representatives standing committee inquiry into the social issues relating to land-based driverless vehicles in Australia.

The introduction of increasing levels of automated driving technologies and fully autonomous vehicles will require reforms to safety investigations of road crashes involving heavy or autonomous vehicles.

Presently, road crashes are investigated by police and/or the coronial system. This system is not suitable for investigating crashes with complex or multiple causes.

In contrast, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) conducts investigation of transport crashes and other safety occurrences in the aviation, marine and rail modes of transport. The ATSB is an independent statutory agency, and it is not a function of the ATSB to apportion blame or to provide a means for determining liability.

The ATA said ATSB’s role should be extended to include road crashes involving heavy or autonomous vehicles.

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