New centre drives transport of the future


A highly automated transit system that will get you from A to B with minimal human input is the vision driving a new $55 million research hub in which UniSA will play a key role.

The aim is to create a more integrated transit system incorporating smartphones, driverless vehicles and public transport.

The University will provide expertise in two key areas – public acceptance and knowledge of new technologies through the Institute for Choice (I4C) and data mining and system creation through the Advanced Computing Research Centre (ACRC) – to the recently established iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).

Director of ACRC, Professor Markus Stumptner, says the ACRC’s involvement in the iMOVE CRC will focus on harnessing data to create new systems for traffic management and flow.

“There is already a huge amount of data generated from our road system – every time a car pulls up to a traffic light for example, it triggers a cable that delivers a message to a wider network,” he says.

“We will examine how we can use that data to create a more streamlined transport system for cars – and what further data we need to make this happen.

“There’s a lot of potential in combining existing traffic data with emerging information such as people’s planned routes on Google Maps. This would give traffic network administrators a much clearer picture of the traffic system.

“One day it might be possible to use these data sets to analyse and manage traffic flow, which will allow driverless cars to be programmed to take the quickest and safest route, taking into account all the others vehicles around them and where they are travelling.

“People could potentially be taken out of the equation on our roads – they will simple decide where they want to go and systems – the cars, the roads, the networks – will do the rest.

“This has huge implications for the future of transport – route optimisation would reduce our environmental footprint and automation could significantly reduce death and injury on our roads as human error currently accounts for most accidents.”

Understanding how people will respond to automated transit solutions is where the I4C comes in. Experts in human decision-making and choice behaviour, the institute will offer insight into current transport behaviours and explore the public’s acceptance and knowledge of new technologies and services.

I4C Commercial Director and Adjunct Industry Fellow, Maria Lambides, says new technologies can only succeed if people are willing to accept and pay for them.

“Major technological and infrastructural changes, both now and in the near future, such as the emergence of shared mobility services, the invention of driverless cars, and continued advances in alternative fuel vehicle technology, have important implications for personalised mobility,” she says.

“The success of these new technologies and services will depend to a large extent on understanding the drivers of demand and consumer acceptance of the services.”

I4C will also undertake research in the areas of travel preferences and needs, and driver behaviour and road safety.

The $55 million federal grant for the development of the iMOVE CRC was announced last month. The CRC will involve industry, government and research partners including federal departments, state road authorities, retailers, logistics and insurance companies, technology developers, automobile clubs and a number of Australian universities. For more information, go to the iMOVE CRC website.