We have to get on board the transport revolution

  Last updated November 8, 2019 at 1:58 pm

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There is a transport revolution coming, and we risk falling behind other countries if we don’t make smart decisions now.





Why This Matters: Cleaner, safer and more efficient transport is there for the taking.




With Australia’s geographic isolation and long distances between large urban centres, the transport sector will be one area that is both significantly disrupted and revolutionised by technological transformation.


Failure to be prepared will risk a decline in many aspects of our Australian way of life and society.


The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering has published a major report identifying sustainability and climate change, productivity, and health as the three key challenges that will need to be addressed within the next decade.


The report shows that Australia is performing well in a several number of areas. We’ve placed ourselves well to capitalise on the coming technology revolution.


However, it’s best to not get too far ahead of ourselves. With technology developing at a rapid pace, and other countries acting strategically, we need to ensure we also make smart, strategic decisions.


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.


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Lowering transport greenhouse gas emissions


Urban congestion costs Australia $16.5 billion every year. By 2030, that cost is expected to rise to $30 billion.


Figures from 2018 show that transport contributed to 19 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. By 2030, it’s predicted that transport greenhouse gas emissions will rise by 9 per cent.


The deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles, low and zero-emission vehicles (LEV) if one potential solution put forth in the report.


Uptake of electric vehicles has so far has been relatively slow with electric vehicles contributing to only 0.1 per cent of annual sales in 2016.




Deeper: Don’t trust the environment hype about electric vehicles? Here’s the economic benefits




However, forward projections indicate that the uptake of electric vehicles could increase exponentially, with the number of vehicles estimated to

double between 2028-29 and 2030-31, from one million vehicles to two million vehicles in Australia.


An increase in the uptake of LEV means that our infrastructure will need to undergo a massive change. However, that could be good news for local technologies and also jobs.


There may be various roles that will be needed to transition to LEVs. This includes engineering roles, specialised mechanics, and design and urban planning.


Keeping people moving, and safe


While making our transport system low emission, the report also recommends ensuring efficient movement of people and freight while reducing road deaths and serious injuries.


Potential solutions include the deployment of high-frequency mass transport and intelligent transport systems.


Over the next decade, the mass transport sector is tipped to be transformed by an on-demand user-centred transport model. That means that transport will be responsive to individual needs while also providing real-time information to commuters.




Deeper: Public transport systems need a rethink to get Aussies on board




With this in mind, the report does predict that by 2030, the number of people using public transport in capital cities will increase by 30 per cent.


Similarly, to keep people safe on our roads, the report suggests using technologies such as lasers, sensors and even autonomous vehicles.


The transport sector is the first industry sector to be examined by The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. The project aims to examine the readiness of different Australian industry sectors to develop, adapt and adopt new and emerging technologies.


The full report can be read here.


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About the Author

Australia's Science Channel Editors

Published By

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering is a Learned Academy operating as an independent, non-political and expert think tank that helps Australians understand and use technology to solve complex problems.


We bring together Australia’s leading experts in applied science, technology and engineering to provide impartial, practical and evidence-based advice on how to achieve sustainable solutions and advance prosperity.


The Academy champions excellence and contributes robust and practical thinking to Australia’s big debates.


Like you, we’re curious about the world and want to create a better future.


The Academy is supported in its mission by almost 900 Fellows drawn from industry, academia, research institutes and government, who represent the brightest and the best in science, technology and engineering in Australia.


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