Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), Cooperative ITS and telematics

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)

ITS is the application of information and communications technologies (ICT) to management of the transport system. ITS involves ICT being placed at the roadside and connected to traffic management centres enabling information to be collected and communicated on road conditions. It helps traffic system managers and road users to make more informed decisions. Outcomes include reduced congestion, improved safety and greater environmental sustainability.

ITS have been used in Australia for decades, including for dynamic speed zones, active lane management, ramp metering and e-tolling. These systems are evolving rapidly. Australian companies are considered at the forefront of ITS developments, and Australian governments have partnered with the private sector to continually develop these technologies. For example, Sydney Cooperative Adaptive Traffic System (SCATS), developed by the NSW government, is used to manage traffic in 30 countries worldwide through adaptive traffic signal changes at intersections.

Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS)

C-ITS makes use of advances in connectivity to enable direct communication between vehicles, roadside infrastructure and other nearby road users (e.g. pedestrians). C-ITS enabled vehicles and infrastructure can also communicate with central data management systems run, for example, by road managers or vehicle manufacturers.

C-ITS collects information and distributes real-time messages about the road environment directly to the driver to help improve decision-making. This increased connectivity can help improve road safety and efficiency in many ways. For example, C-ITS vehicles and infrastructure could work together to warn a driver of upcoming risks or traffic that is not immediately visible (e.g. over a crest of a hill or around a bend). Currently drivers act on the C-ITS messages but, in the future, it is anticipated that the messages would be actioned by the automated driving systems in vehicles.
C-ITS has been trialled in Australia through initiatives such as:

Supporting deployment of C-ITS

The department, the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, Transport for NSW and Austroads undertook research examining strategies to support C-ITS deployment models. The report, Advice to Support C-ITS in Australia, found:

  • national consistency is essential to achieve the level of interoperability required to realise the full benefits of C-ITS
  • Australia should align itself to an international standards suite, and
  • government leadership and direction is needed for C-ITS to succeed in Australia.

Findings from the project helped inform government policy development on draft principles for a national approach to C-ITS in Australia, on which industry and public consultation was undertaken in early 2023.

In late 2023, Commonwealth, state and territory infrastructure and transport ministers endorsed  the final Principles for a National Approach to Co-operative Intelligent Transport Systems in Australia.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has made available radiofrequency spectrum in the 5.9GHz band for use by intelligent transport systems (ITS) in Australia via the ITS Class Licence. The Office of Future Transport Technology works with the Department’s Communications Group and the ACMA to ensure spectrum arrangements for road transport technologies in Australia remain aligned with key international markets and are able to support these technologies.

Telematics technologies for heavy vehicles

Telematics technologies are used to provide real-time data on vehicle location and can monitor vehicle and operator performance, compliance and systems diagnostics. These technologies can help facilitate truck fleet optimisation, track vehicle performance, and provide infrastructure planners with data to better inform understanding of transport networks. Telematics is also evolving rapidly to make use of advances in connectivity and data analytics to deliver new and improved services to vehicle operators and drivers, including road safety information.

The Department is currently trialling telematics technologies as a potential option for direct road user charging through the National Heavy Vehicle Charging Pilot.