Sunday 23rd Sep, 2018

Automation likely to be incremental, says NTC chief executive

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

AUTOMATION of trucks in the freight industry is likely to be a gradual process, National Transport Commission chief executive Peter Retter AM says.

Speaking at the Victorian Transport Association 2018 State Conference in Lorne, Mr Retter talked of challenges that were “both a challenge and also an opportunity for the transport and logistics sectors”.

“Automation and dedicated infrastructure have the potential to transform freight movements.

“We’ve seen the discreet application of autonomous vehicles – both trucks and trains – at Rio Tinto’s mines in the Pilbara,” he said.

“However the use of more automated level 3 and level 4 vehicles, where we still have a driver but there are lengthier parts of the journey undertaken by automated driving systems, are in my view not far away and will increase, inevitably, on some of our major freight routes in the next ten to 15 years.”

But Mr Retter said indicated it would be some time before we saw level 5 (fully autonomous) vehicles taking freight between Melbourne and Sydney.

“My personal view is that the third 30-year end is more likely for true automation in the heavy vehicle sector.”

Mr Retter said this prediction might seem conservative but moving massive freight vehicles down a highways while mixing automated vehicles and human driven vehicles was highly complex.

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