Fed Govt establishes Office of Future Transport Technologies

The Federal Government is establishing an Office of Future Transport Technologies to prepare for automated vehicles and other transport innovations.

A $9.7 million investment has been made into the initiative to enhance the Federal Government’s strategic leadership role and to coordinate cohesively with other governments and agencies to implement new transport technology into Australia.

One of the focuses of the new Office will be to improve transport and road safety outcomes while developing automated vehicle technologies.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said Australian governments and industry is taking proactive steps to manage the associated challenges and opportunities within the evolving future transport landscape.

“The Australian future transport and mobility industry is expected generate more than $16 billion in revenue by 2025,” Mr McCormack said.

“While representing an emerging business opportunity for the national economy, these technologies also have great potential to reduce the $27 billion cost of road crashes in Australia each year.

“These advances can also help to reduce the significant social impacts that road deaths and injuries have on families and the wider community,” he said.

Mr McCormack said he wanted to ensure these new technologies are deployed in a manner which improves safety, productivity, accessibility and liveability for Australians in both urban and regional areas.

“The establishment of an Office of Future Transport Technologies within my Department will enable the Australian Government to work with industry and State and Territory Governments to ensure Australia is ready for the challenges and opportunities ahead,” he said.

“I expect the Office to collaborate across governments to ensure automated vehicles are safe, to consider future infrastructure needs, to make sure cyber security safeguards are in place, and to support Australian businesses in taking advantage of new commercial opportunities.

“While some of this work has already started, we will see the Office of Future Transport Technologies ramping up over the next few months to coordinate Australia’s responses to the challenges ahead.”

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Next step in automated vehicle regulation approved

Australian transport ministers have approved two key automated vehicle reforms as part of a roadmap of reform to support commercial deployment.

National Transport Commission (NTC) Chief Executive, Paul Retter, has said ministers endorsed new national enforcement guidelines and agreed to progress the development of a safety assurance system at the Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting on 10 November.

“Ministers have agreed to a goal of having an end-to-end regulatory system in place by 2020 to support the safe, commercial deployment of automated vehicles at all levels of automation. This is an important milestone towards that goal,” Mr Retter said.

“Australia is one of the first countries to make this bold commitment to 2020. We want to give certainty to manufacturers by ensuring our regulatory system is flexible and responsive to encourage innovation.”

The National Enforcement Guidelines reportedly provide guidance to police for applying the road rules to automated vehicles.

“These guidelines provide clarity around who is in control of a vehicle at different levels of automation,” Mr Retter said.

“They confirm that a human driver is responsible for the driving task when conditional automation is engaged.

“They also determine that having hands on the wheel is no longer an indicator of having proper control when conditional automation is safely engaged,” he said.