We have met with a range of stakeholders with expertise in automated and zero emission vehicles and these discussions will continue throughout 2018.

We have also conducted an initial review of industry, academic and policy reports and, combined with what we have heard, identified an initial list of the target outcomes that Victoria could seek to achieve through the introduction of these vehicles. These outcomes for the state will assist us in assessing our recommendations to make sure they are in the best interests of Victoria.

Target outcomes for the state that automated and zero emission vehicles could contribute to achieving in Victoria

  • Improve safety and public health
  • Improve transport system performance and accessibility
  • Improve mobility options
  • Improve access to jobs and services
  • Enable optimal land use
  • Decrease carbon emissions
  • Decrease air and noise pollution
  • Improve reliability and sustainability of energy systems
  • Support the productivity and growth of the Victorian economy
As we develop our advice, we will also tie these outcomes back to Victoria’s 30-year Infrastructure Strategy, which focused on overall objectives Victoria should aim to achieve as a state. You can download the 30-year strategy here.

Areas of focus when developing our advice

Automated and zero emission vehicles are complex subjects which have many related issues. We need to focus on the issues that are most relevant to responding to the Government’s request for advice on what infrastructure is required to enable the implementation of automated and zero emission vehicles in Victoria. Following our initial reviews and meetings, we have identified the following areas for investigation in detail when developing our advice.

  • Technology development

Automated and zero emission vehicle technologies are advancing rapidly, but exactly how rapidly – and in what direction – will have a significant impact on the infrastructure required to support its roll-out. We will also need to look at what might be needed to allow automated and human drivers to exist together on the road, any opportunities or drawbacks to particular technologies, and the specific opportunities for freight.

  • Levels of sharing and ownership

Whether the introduction of automated vehicles leads to no one owning their own vehicle – or to everyone having their own, fully automated car – will have significant implications for what and when infrastructure is needed. We will also be looking to understand the potential market and commercial models for fleets, and how these might impact on how we are likely to use our transport infrastructure in the future.

  • Interface with physical infrastructure

What might the roads of the future look like without drivers or emissions? That is a question we will be asking through this advice. We will consider issues such as road markings, signage, road quality, drop-off and pick-up areas, dedicated lanes, charging and fuelling infrastructure, and parking. We will also look at how the infrastructure needs for automated vehicles could change over time, from introduction to full roll-out, and what the implications could be for future infrastructure projects.

  • Digital infrastructure

To fully reap the benefits of automation, driverless cars will need to be connected. But how connected do they need to be and to what? Their exact communication and data needs, including mapping accuracy, will determine what digital infrastructure might be needed to support their operation. Cybersecurity also needs to be addressed to build confidence and protect consumer privacy.

  • Changes to travel and land use patterns

The introduction of automated vehicles could dramatically change the way we interact with all forms of transport, particularly if the potential of ‘Mobility as a Service’ is fully realised – or not.The potential impacts that these changes could have on how and where we want to travel will have implications for the infrastructure that we need as a state, in both urban and regional areas. Active transport and how this will be integrated with new types of vehicles is also an important area for us to investigate. Urban planning and infrastructure requirements may change if people live and work in different places or ways due to use of automated vehicles.

  • Energy supply and charging capacity

The type of zero emission technologies that fuel our future vehicles will have specific infrastructure requirements and impacts across the state’s energy network. If all vehicles are electric, the implications for the grid, the need for charging stations and how batteries engage with the network all have flow-on effects for infrastructure. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, on the other hand, could have a different set of implications. We also need to consider when and how our behaviour might change as a result of the introduction of these vehicles. Will we still charge or fuel up at stations, or will this be done at home or work? And can our cars act as batteries to provide energy for our homes? The implications of these decisions will help to determine what infrastructure we need to build or change to accommodate a future with zero emissions vehicles.

  • Public acceptance and government policy

Drivers today are wary of travelling in a fully automated vehicle, car or ride sharing in Victoria is not very common, and we are lagging behind some other countries in adopting zero emissions vehicles. Public attitudes could affect uptake levels, so it is important that we consider how behaviour might change – and when. Whether the government has a role in encouraging the use of automated or zero emission vehicles could have implications for infrastructure, particularly if it affects adoption rates. The rate of uptake also has implications for how the government funds future infrastructure maintenance and investments, and how the economy reacts to these technologies more broadly.

  • Environmental and human health impacts

Zero emission vehicles can make a contribution to achieving carbon emission reduction targets. But what will be the extent of this contribution, what will be the source of the generated electricity and will it be stored in batteries or hydrogen fuel cells? The environmental impacts of automated and zero emission vehicles over their entire lifecycle, with different possible uses and technologies, requires consideration. Automated vehicles have the potential to reduce road injuries and deaths. But to what level and what transitional safety issues might we face with a mixed fleet of vehicles? As air and noise pollution from vehicles have effects on human health, the contribution that zero emission vehicles can make to improving health may be important.

  • Economic impacts

Automated and zero emission vehicles, and the infrastructure provided to support their deployment, are likely to have different economic impacts depending on how and when they are rolled out and used. We will seek to understand these economic impacts to inform investment choices and other policy decisions.

  • Social consequences and opportunities

Victoria’s ageing population and those living with a disability are potentially beneficiaries of automated vehicles, which promise increased access to mobility, services and employment. Our work will consider how infrastructure investments and policies can help harness these opportunities while mitigating potential negative consequences.