FUTURE TECH: Tesla's stunning 'Semi' electric truck prototypes boast a 800-plus km range, zero vehicle emissions, improved air quality, running cost reductions of about 17 cents per km.
FUTURE TECH: Tesla's stunning 'Semi' electric truck prototypes boast a 800-plus km range, zero vehicle emissions, improved air quality, running cost reductions of about 17 cents per km.

New $9.7m department for future technology

A $9.7 million office is being established to prepare us for the arrival of automated vehicles and other transport innovations.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said automated vehicles are on the verge of becoming commercially available here and the Australian Government is taking "proactive steps to manage the associated challenges and opportunities within that evolving and future transport landscape”.

He said the new Office of Future Transport Technologies would help Australian governments and industry to collaborate effectively in order to develop the right policy, regulation and infrastructure, to adapt to future technology use.

"Getting Australians home sooner and safer is a core focus of our government and the emergence of automated vehicles represents a significant opportunity to realise safety and productivity benefits while supporting Australian industry and innovation,” he said.

"The Australian future transport and mobility industry is expected generate more than $16 billion in revenue by 2025.

"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.”

The National Transport Commission (NTC) welcomed the announcement of the new federal office.

NTC's Acting Chief Executive, Dr Geoff Allan, said it showed the importance of emerging transport technologies, including automated vehicles, and their potential to improve safety and productivity in Australia.

"Automated vehicles are one of the biggest changes to transport since the introduction of the car,” Dr Allan said.

"The NTC looks forward to working with the Office of Future Transport Technologies as we continue to build an end-to-end regulatory system for automated vehicles in Australia,” he said.

Dr Allan said that the NTC has been working closely with the federal government, state and territory governments and industry.

"The NTC will continue our work on safety assurance for automated vehicles, changing driver laws, government access to data, and motor accident injury insurance to support the commercial deployment of automated vehicles,” he said.

"The new office shows that the federal government is committed to implementing future transport technologies successfully and responsibly.

"Providing that coordinating role across government, particularly where it involves non-transport agencies, will be important to help Australia make this transition safely and smoothly.”

The NTC is finalising recommendations on safety assurance for automated vehicles for transport ministers in November.

It also has a discussion paper on regulating government access to data generated by C-ITS and automated vehicles open for comment. A discussion paper on motor accident and injury insurance is due to be released in the coming weeks.

News of the new transport tech office came just days after the federal government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the US State of Michigan, a world leader in road safety research and tech.

Mr McCormack said the MOU was part of the Government's agenda to position Australia for safer roads through automated and connected vehicles.

"Over 90 per cent of crashes are estimated to result at least in part from human choices, so the potential benefits from sharing of expertise and experience between our two jurisdictions are enormous,” Mr McCormack said.

"This is just one way the Government is promoting safer vehicles on safer roads, including for our regions where road crashes remain unacceptably high.”

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