On 17 March 2015, Hugh Dixon, Senior Traffic Engineer in HDS Australia's Victorian Office, attended an ITEANZ (Institute Of Transportation Engineers Australia & New Zealand Section) seminar on “Automated Vehicles – Understanding the impact of disruptive change” held at the ARRB Theatrette in Vermont South. The event was well attended including by a number of students and recent graduates.
The four speakers were:
Professor Mike Regan, Chief Scientist in Human Factors at ARRB who discussed the human dimension to vehicle automation,
Stuart Ballingall, Project Director for Cooperative ITS at Austroads who discussed the role of connectivity in extending the benefits of vehicle automation,
Andrew Somers, Network Operations and ITS Consultant at Transoptim who discussed how driverless cars might transform demand for transport, and
Carl Liersch, Manager Chassis Systems Control at Bosch who discussed vehicle automation from the perspective of a developer of vehicle systems.
One thing that impressed Hugh about these presentations was the move away from presenting “Automated Vehicles” as a prospective end state, and instead giving consideration to the process of automating vehicles. Anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control are automated vehicle features that are currently readily available, while parking assistance, lane departure warning and auto dipping headlights are now entering the mainstream.
Another thing worth remembering when projecting into the future with disruptive technologies is that raw extrapolation of accomplishments and even objectives can turn out to be erroneous. The unknown unknowns add a challenge for transport planning, and perhaps emphasises the need for plans and designs to include flexibility and be adaptable.