And there are huge potential benefits to electrification, but it’s going to take time (and work) to get there?
Infrastructure Victoria has revealed its advice on what’s needed to support the rollout of highly-automated and zero-emissions vehicles, arguing autonomy could improve the efficiency of our roads by 91 per cent.
According to the report, the rollout of self-driving cars could support $15 billion in economic growth by 2046, while the transition to zero-emissions motoring could deliver $706 million in health benefits by the same time, reducing greenhouse emissions by around 27 million tonnes.
These benefits won’t just come around magically, though, with the report calling for the Victorian Government to “champion automated and zero emissions vehicles through a mix of smart regulatory and policy settings and targeted infrastructure investments” to put itself “at the forefront of these emerging technologies”.
“Government can take action right now to get Victoria ready for new vehicle technologies,” said project director, Dr Allison Stewart.
“Integrating on-demand and mobility as a service into the public transport mix and sharing our transport data in real-time could support our transport system and attract new and innovative companies and services to Victoria.”
“Allowing flexibility in our planning regime to make it easier for people to charge their electric vehicles could also have an immediate impact,” Dr Stewart added.
Investment will, according to Infrastructure Victoria, be required in the following areas:
- Mobile networks, to the tune of $1.7 billion
- Line markings on roads, to the tune of $250 million
- Energy networks, to the tune of $2.2 billion
The report calls for updates to the road network, encompassing new road signs and markings, along with proper consideration for how road space could be rethought to incorporate self-driving cars. That could mean focusing on clearly-marked bus lanes, which can also serve as dedicated lanes for autonomous cars, according to the research.
Along with better mobile network infrastructure to handle the demands of connected vehicles, the idea of integrated management across all modes of transport was floated.
Addressing one of the greatest concerns surrounding electric vehicles, there are calls to plan for the changing demands on our energy grid.
“Our research found these vehicles could significantly reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, dramatically improve access to services, avoid car accidents caused by human error and add almost $15 billion per year to the economy,” said Infrastructure Victoria CEO, Michel Masson.
“There are many uncertainties and challenges but the expected benefits cannot be ignored – this technology could potentially be the biggest transformation to the state since the arrival of the car itself,” Masson said.
MORE: Autonomous driving coverage