The Australian government is creating the Office of Future Transport Technologies to prepare for the arrival of automated vehicles and other transport innovations.
Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack says with funding of A$9.7 million ($6.9 million) the office will help the federal government work with other governments and agencies to implement future transport technologies more successfully and responsibly.
He says in a statement the development and uptake of automated-vehicle technologies and associated applications also will be managed with a focus on improving transport and road-safety outcomes.
McCormack says Australian governments – federal, state and territorial – need to collaborate effectively to develop the right policies, regulations and infrastructure to adapt to future technologies.
“The emergence of automated vehicles represents a significant opportunity to realize safety and productivity benefits while supporting Australian industry and innovation,” he says. “While representing an emerging business opportunity for the national economy, these technologies also have great potential to reduce the A$27 billion ($19.1 billion) cost of road crashes in Australia each year.”
McCormack wants to ensure the new technologies improve safety, productivity, accessibility and livability for all Australians.
“I expect the (new) office to collaborate across governments to ensure automated vehicles are safe, to consider future infrastructure needs, to make sure cybersecurity safeguards are in place and to support Australian businesses in taking advantage of new commercial opportunities,” he says.
He says the federal initiative will ensure the regulatory settings are workable and nationally consistent, that they fit with emerging United Nations regulatory developments and are consistent with Australian policies and laws, including those relating to privacy and data use.
“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.”
James Goodwin, CEO of the independent Australasian New Car Assessment Program, says building consumer, industry and regulator confidence are keys to an automated transport future.
Goodwin says ANCAP is undertaking independent safety testing of Level 2 autonomous technologies including intelligent speed assistance, autonomous emergency braking and active lane-keep assistance.
“A dedicated office should concentrate on the regulatory and legal framework but also prioritize Australian testing and research capabilities,” he says.
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries says the new office builds on and enhances the existing Transport Technologies Future Taskforce.