Research & policy

Transport technology report

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.

For example, inadequate planning for population growth and the spread of urban centres could significantly impede the mobility of passengers and freight in both urban and regional areas.

This could increase congestion and vehicle-related emissions, lead to a deterioration in health, safety and security, and negatively impact productivity and the cost of living.

In this early phase of the transition, it is critical that Australia identifies what we want for our society, what action government and industry need to take, and how this will translate to a transport sector for the future.

Technology will be key to addressing these issues. The Academy’s report on the Australian urban transport industry’s technology readiness, Shifting Gears – Preparing for a Transport Revolution, was published on 29 April 2019.

The Academy identified sustainability and climate change, productivity and health as the three key challenges that will need to be addressed within the transport sector over the next decade.

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.

The deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles, low and zero-emission vehicles, high-frequency mass transport and intelligent transport systems are potential solutions to these challenges.

The report found that Australia is performing well on a number of readiness indicators and is well placed to capitalise on the coming technology revolution. However, with technology developing at a rapid pace and competitor countries investing and acting strategically, Australia needs to ensure we make smart, strategic decisions to keep pace with the technological frontier.

“Australians have a new opportunity in the face of rapid technological change. We need new approaches to ensure Australian policy-makers, industry leaders and researchers work together to deliver the greatest benefit to Australians,” project co-chair Kathryn Fagg AO FTSE said.

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering is undertaking a major three-year (2018–2020) Australian Research Council Learned Academies Special Projects-funded research project to examine the readiness of different Australian industry sectors to develop, adapt and adopt new and emerging technologies, with a horizon out to 2030.

The transport sector is the first industry sector to be examined by the project.

Read Academy President, Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE, on the report in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Download the full report below.

Download a four-page summary of the report.