by ITS Australia

As the transport industry deals with the current COVID-19 pandemic, operations have changed dramatically. However, ITS Australia and its partners are still moving ahead with key ITS projects to ensure continued progress in the space, including connecting vehicle networks and unlocking shared mobility.

These are peculiar and uncertain times for us all. As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the globe, the thoughts of all of us at ITS Australia are with our members and to the broader transport technology industry both here in Australia and around the globe.

We recognise the tremendous work that is being done in our space as roads agencies across the nation work diligently, splitting their time between their offices and homes, to ensure that the nation’s transport networks continue to operate effectively, and enabling essential and emergency services to be delivered throughout Australia.

We also recognise freight operators and agencies who continue to move goods around the country to address the shortages that we have all witnessed; and public transport operators who have adjusted their operations enormously to ensure that their services are safe for all public transport users.

Just a few short months ago, ITS Australia was preparing to deliver a full calendar of events in 2020, including an ITS Asia Pacific Forum.

Now, at least for the next few months, all that activity is on hold. But, even now, our work goes on. Like everyone in the industry, we at ITS Australia spent March and April assessing how to move our activities online.

Now we are focused on how to support our members through COVID-19, and how we will best serve the industry as it emerges from the immediate crisis.

Recently we began running our webinars weekly, we believe that these will be an important conduit for information sharing across the industry.

We are also ensuring that ITS Australia’s workshops and reference groups continue in the online space, this will ensure that our important project and policy work is able to continue.

Right now, ITS Australia, along with our many partners, is leading two key projects.

Putting the connectivity in C-ITS

ITS Australia and The University of Melbourne are partnering with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, IAG, Intelematics, and Transmax on this iMOVE project, supported by the Commonwealth Government, to investigate connectivity enhancing safety and network efficiency.

There are currently few vehicles in Australia that are optimised for connectivity or equipped with Co-operative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS).

The potential safety benefits from new connected vehicles are unlikely to be realised in the immediate future in Australia due to the age of our fleet and the limited connectivity of new vehicles.

Vehicles arriving with C-ITS technology are likely to land in Australia with a mix of connective technologies, calling for a new set of interoperability standards to guarantee the intended communication and cooperation.

Australasia’s authority on vehicle safety, ANCAP, undertook a recent analysis of the Australian registered light vehicle fleet, revealing:

  • Older vehicles are over-represented in fatal vehicle crashes, and
  • The average age of a vehicle involved in a fatal crash is increasing

Connected vehicles can improve safety and network efficiency outcomes. In urban environments, increased connectivity of vehicles could enable improved network productivity and offer safety benefits for all road users.

In rural and regional contexts, safety and productivity improvements could result in social equity and accessibility benefits.

There is a mix of technology and levels of connectivity required and a range of use cases to consider for optimal outcomes. An evidence base is needed to better understand the options that can offer the most effective safety and efficiency benefits on Australian roads.

There is potential to increase the number of compatible connected vehicles in Australia over the next decade through the fitting of after-market devices and/or increasing the demand of consumers for connectivity to be enabled in new vehicles arriving in Australia.

ANCAP safety modelling on road death projection estimated that with an increasing population and no changes to current road death rates over the next five years, around 6,000 lives will be lost on Australia’s roads.

AAA research found that in 2018–19, congestion costs are expected to exceed $23 billion, which will be more than the value of all road-related expenditure. Congestion costs are projected to reach between $30.6 and $41.2 billion by 2030 (Australian Automobile Association, 2019).

Safety and congestion are two of the key challenges on our networks and there is strong potential for connectivity and C-ITS to improve these vital problems.

Project scope

  • Desktop study to understand existing national and international applications and penetrations and outcomes, and an environmental scan to study the current and projected percentage of connected and C-ITS vehicles
  • The trade-offs between safety and productivity will be studied
  • Analysis of data from C-ITS and automated vehicle deployments and trials including CITI, CAVI and AIMES
  • Identify a range of devices and technologies that enable connectivity and their applications and efficacy
  • Use cases identified based on data analysis and literature review including stakeholder interviews nationally and internationally that indicated optimal outcomes for safety and efficiency

Challenges and opportunities

Technology acceptance:

  • Users will need to see benefits of communication on top of sensor-only ADAS in order to adopt it
  • Cyber security: privacy concerns related to connectivity

Deployment and penetration:

  •  Infrastructure costs might be a significant barrier
  • “Chicken-and-Egg” situation: who will invest first? OEM’s and users or infrastructure providers?
  • Benefits will be seen only after certain uptake
  • Fleet age and fuel quality as additional barriers to new technology reaching Australia’s roads

Aftermarket vs. OEM:

  • Fleet age and renewal rate indicate need for aftermarket solutions
  • Challenges in retrofitting: integration into vehicle’s computer, proprietary technology and liability

Human factors:

  • Trust and loss of skill
  • Human machine interaction

Standards, regulation and stakeholders:

  •  Interoperability of technology provided by different companies
  • Need for standardised actions and regulations across regions
  • Opportunity for new operation standards and policy

Trade-offs between road safety and productivity:

  • Improvements in safety should improve productivity
  • Lack of data and understanding to infer impact magnitude or negative effects of productivity on safety

Unlocking shared mobility through new parking paradigms

ITS Australia leads this research project though iMOVE with research partners RMIT, Cubic and IAG to better understand how we can collaboratively work to increase the options for customers to access car share services to improve outcomes for our communities.

The project will investigate how parking could be managed to enable free flow car share; what the costs and benefits are and for whom (including in terms of local government policy and transport policy generally); and what framework or hierarchy could guide the implementation.

There are benefits for this technology specifically, but also for developing a clearer critical framework around parking and car sharing.

Car share programs are increasingly popular in Australia and internationally, predominately in urban locations, although recently have been expanding into some outer metro and regional areas.

However, fixed spot point-to-point parking requirements can limit their functionality and scope, and offer a user-experience that can’t effectively compete with private vehicle ownership.

This is a complex challenge with a large range of stakeholders that often have competing agendas and issues.

To begin the process to understand how cross-jurisdiction free-flow car share could be facilitated and managed, we are partnering with local councils, academia, industry, and state and federal government stakeholders.

Car sharing has also less tangible but important ancillary benefits such as increasing community sharing and raising awareness of alternative transport modes.

Although car sharing has only an estimated 1-3 per cent of market penetration in Australia, it is gaining recognition as an important component of an integrated approach to sustainable transport.

It has been suggested that car sharing may provide a pathway for a fundamentally new mobility, which focuses on intermodal clustering of conventional and innovative technologies to create a coordinated transportation system that could substitute for the traditional private vehicle.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS), demand responsive and on-demand transport have an increasing profile and interest in the Australian transport sector and the wider community.

As government and industry prepare for the advent of connected and automated vehicles, we have an opportunity to take on some of the existing long-term challenges that could hinder the utility and marketability of MaaS and increase customer engagement.

If the ultimate goal of MaaS in Australia is to aim to be more convenient than individual use of private vehicles, car share is a vital ingredient.

There will always (or for the foreseeable future) be the need for car use, but variable parking policies across jurisdictional boundaries will be an important challenge to recognise to enable really effective car share services, and increasingly popular transport models like on-demand services and micromobility modes requiring close management of kerbside assets and more sophisticated data collection and analysis.

The project will address the following:

Investigating public parking and free-flow parking models to facilitate car sharing programs more effectively across LGAs and multi-stakeholder precincts in Australia.

The goal being to research, design and test best-practice guidelines, and best-practice regulations and policy for a range of precincts that can be used by councils and state governments, and other regulatory bodies to work with industry and providers to enable effective and efficient free-flow parking in their jurisdictions.

The project outputs will include:

  • A report analysing national and international research and services, and contextualising for Australia, demonstrating the potential and outlining the opportunities and challenges
  •  A report to participants and key stakeholders on use-cases and potential approaches across technologies, frameworks and jurisdictions
  •  Use-cases across three municipalities testing scenarios in real-world environment

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