Research into the impacts of Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs)

Environmental impacts of Connected and Automated Vehicles

The department, the iMOVE Australia Cooperative Research Centre (iMOVE) and RMIT are undertaking a research project to investigate the environmental impacts of the transition from conventional vehicles to Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV) in Australia. This project will provide an extensive understanding and analysis of the aggregated national environmental impacts of CAVs, specifically in the Australian context. These impacts will be assessed distinctly as an outcome of increased vehicle automation and vehicle connectivity in transport.

Impacts of CAVs on older drivers

The department, iMOVE, Queensland University of Technology and the University of NSW are undertaking a research project looking at the perceptions of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and Automated Vehicles (AVs) in older adults, and how older adults interact with currently available technologies. The work is intended to improve understanding and determine the extent to which ADAS and AVs can improve older driver safety and mobility. This work is currently underway.

Workforce implications of transport digitalisation and automation

The department, IMOVE and Swinburne University of Technology undertook a research project to develop a deeper understanding of the workforce implications resulting from the digitalisation and automation of transport in Australia. The project assessed future skills gaps and training needs, and identified new job opportunities from the introduction and operation of automated transport. The work was intended to contribute to a better understanding of the types of occupations and sectors that will potentially be most affected by automation and digitalisation of transport, and would assist in developing strategies to assist employers and workers with reskilling and training to meet new digital workforce requirements.

Promoting Community Readiness and Uptake of CAVs

In 2022, the department, iMOVE and the University of South Australia finalised the report Promoting Community Readiness and Uptake of CAVs. The study examines Australians' attitudes, perceptions and preferences towards CAV technologies, and identifies ways in which governments could support greater public acceptance.

The study found that Australians report low levels of familiarity and experience with CAVs. While most people agreed there are wider societal benefits of CAVs, consumers were unlikely to adopt CAVs themselves unless there was a clear personal benefit. The biggest barrier to public acceptance identified by the study was trust in the technology.

Economic Impacts of CAVs*

In December 2021, the department finalised a consultancy report, The Economic Impacts of Connected and Automated Vehicles, with the Centre for International Economics (the CIE) (with WSP Australia).

The report found that from 2020 to 2070, CAVs would have a positive net value to the Australian community of $1.4 trillion under the base case uptake scenario. The benefits of CAVs are expected to occur towards the back end of the 50-year period (with $13 billion in net impacts occurring by 2050). The report notes the substantial uncertainty around CAV impacts. While some of the impacts can be quantified, there are many that are less tangible as well as many ways in which responses to CAVs can change the level of costs and benefits and who the beneficiaries are.

Safety and efficiency benefits of Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS)

As part of its Connected and Automated Vehicle Initiative (CAVI), the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, in partnership with Queensland University of Technology, is conducting a Cooperative and Highly Automated Driving Safety Study, to better understand safety challenges posed by CAVs, which will inform government policy and direction.

iMOVE published the Connectivity in C-ITS report in November 2020 on the safety and congestion-reduction benefits of connected vehicles. The report found that C-ITS deployment has the potential to address approximately 80% of road crashes (based on an analysis of eight connected vehicle use cases using Victorian road safety data). It also found congestion reduction and average speed increase benefits during peak hour traffic (based on traffic microsimulation experiments).

Austroads has undertaken research to understand the safety benefits of Cooperative ITS and Automated Driving in Australia and New Zealand. The study (published in October 2017) found that the technologies are predicted to have significant potential to reduce road crash risk and injury consequences.

Austroads guidance on preparing infrastructure for CAVs

The Office of Future Transport Technology also works with Austroads’ Future Vehicles and Technology Task Force to develop guidance on preparing infrastructure for CAVs. These include:

  • Minimum requirements for Traffic Signs, Traffic Signals and Line Markings (AP‑R696-23)
  • Minimum physical infrastructure standard for the operation of automated driving  (AP-R665-22)
  • Implications of pavement marking for machine vision (AP-R633-20)
  • Guidance and readability criteria for traffic sign recognition systems reading electronic signs (AP-R627-20)
  • Infrastructure changes to support automated vehicles on rural and metropolitan highways and freeways (AP-T347-19)

*Note: The CIE/WSP report, The Economic Impacts of Connected and Automated Vehicles, is a point in time assessment based on the best understanding of the authors. The report precedes the legislated 2050 net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target. The electric vehicle (EV) uptake forecasts used in the report may therefore underestimate EV take-up. A faster rate of EV uptake and use of renewable electricity would reduce the fuel and GHG emission reduction benefits of CAVs as calculated in the report. The fuel and emissions reduction costs are also based on the price of fuel per litre at July 2021 (i.e. 133.4 cents per litre) which is lower than current prices. A higher fuel price would increase the value of fuel savings from CAVs.

The estimate of communications infrastructure costs is an order of magnitude estimate only. It assumes all paved roads have mobile coverage and does not include operating costs or consider ways to maximise mobile coverage (e.g. through use of external antennas on vehicles or a single tower covering multiple road sections).

The report focusses on the direct impacts of CAVs on the transport system and does not attempt to quantify broader impacts of CAVs, for example, on employment. The report identifies the potential for large job losses for drivers and the potential need for retraining/reskilling but notes the transition to CAVs is likely to be gradual under all uptake scenarios. However, a gradual transition would not preclude there being shocks for some firms or industries as automation is introduced. The impact of this would ultimately depend on the approach to management of transitional impacts