We are on the verge of major change to our transportation sector although there is uncertainty over how quickly this will unfold. By building in the infrastructure required as we do routine maintenance, upgrades or new builds, we can minimize the future cost to prepare for vehicle automation. Australia needs to prepare our infrastructure today to ensure it is an enabler of these new technologies and not a barrier. Infrastructure Designers could benefit from working with vehicle designers to find synergies to improve the performance of both vehicles and infrastructure. In the meantime new infrastructure projects should future proof themselves by conducting an Autonomous Vehicle (AV) review to ensure they are AV ready.
10 Priorities for enabling an electric AV future
1. Consistency is king. Standardisation of road designs will enable us to get most benefit out of AV technology. New physical infrastructure should be reviewed to ensure the designs are AV friendly. Road designs, signs and line markings need to be machine readable and standardised at a national level and if possible at an international standard.
2. Loads on existing bridges and pavement may be greater than original design assumptions requiring modification. Physical infrastructure design assumptions need to change to cater for the dynamic loads of platooning vehicles. Barriers will need to be designed to with stand platoon impact loads.
3. Design of pavements may need to change as automated heavy vehicles will increase rutting and surface wear as AVs follow the exact wheel path of similar vehicles.
4. Vertical and horizontal curves of roads may need to be modified for AV usage.
5. Maintenance Schedules will be very important with regular consistent maintenance required to keep road infrastructure at the required standard for AV operation.
6. Increasing demand for pick up and drop off areas.
7. Significant public transport investment is required. With public transport modelling predicting patronage to at minimum double by 2046.
8. To prepare for fleet electrification the electricity grid must cope with greater peak loads and increased demand to be met from renewable sources.
9. Upgrade communication infrastructure. 5G coverage and accurate vehicle positioning systems, mapping, installation of roadside communications and sensors.
10. A platform to exchange data points between road infrastructure and road users’ needs to be developed.
Project Support can provide an AV review to ensure your infrastructure project is future proof. Please get in touch to find out how we can help.