National transport science priorities win favour

Academics say clear directions for science community will help direct transport sector research

National transport science priorities win favour
Marion Terrill


Transport researchers have given the "thumbs up" to Australia’s national science and research priorities.

Announced by education minister Christopher Pyne on May 26, these include three transport-industry specific research areas: low emission fuel technology; improved logistics, modelling and urban design (including development of autonomous vehicles); and effective pricing, operation and resource allocation.

"We will always make a considerable investment in science, research, and innovation, and continue to support a range of high-quality basic and applied research across all disciplines and in all areas," Pyne says.

"Nevertheless, we have finite resources and need to be strategic in how we invest."

The priorities – which also cover cross-disciplinary research into agriculture, cyber-security, health, and advanced manufacturing – aim to help Australia’s science and research efforts to reflect the needs of industry, the national economy and the community, Pyne adds.

Director of the Grattan Institute’s Transport Program Marion Terrill says the priorities show the government has recognised the value that Australia’s transport sector brings to the national economy.

"Transport’s value lies not so much in the service itself, but in its power to enable us to move around and enjoy the things we care about," she writes this week.

"Transport activity accounts for more than a third of Australia’s energy consumption and close to three quarters of our use of liquid fuels. With demand for transport fuel rising, Australia has a stronger need than many nations to improve technology for domestic and export markets."

Director of National ICT Australia Rob Fitzpatrick says Australia is well-placed to develop data-driven solutions to common transport problems, including how to prioritise large-scale infrastructure projects.

"With increasing ‘visibility’ of freight flows into, out of and within Australia, we can develop a dynamic picture of the ‘beating heart" of our nation," he says.

"With this, we can visualise which roads and bridges, which urban areas and port districts, are under stress at particular times of the year, and more pragmatically align the $150 billion of new annual infrastructure investment to areas that need it most."

You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook