Ipswich City Council has been selected to trial the largest 'intelligent vehicle' on-road testing program in Australia. The driverless and connected trial will involve 500 Ipswich motorists having their vehicles retrofitted with cooperative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS) technology.
Ipswich was selected to trial vehicles and infrastructure that can talk to one another, as well as to test cooperative and highly-automated vehicles on South East Queensland roads, as part of a State Government plan to ensure the State was tech-ready for the future.
Mayor Paul Pisasale said the driverless and connected trial was a perfect fit for the City's Smart City Blueprint.
"With our ongoing commitment to technology and digital innovation, Ipswich was the obvious choice for this trial," Mayor Pisasale said.
"The agreement with Queensland's Department of Transport and Main Roads means Ipswich will be the location for Australia's largest trial of cooperative intelligent transport systems technology, including real-world trialling and large-scale deployment.
"This driverless and connected trial is a natural fit with what Council has been working to achieve."
The C-ITS devices work by providing safety warnings to the driver about a range of conditions – such as a pedestrian crossing at a signalised intersection, a red-light runner or a queue ahead that isn't visible to a driver. The rapidly developing technology has the potential to significantly reduce crashes and crash-related gridlock, as well as reduce vehicle emissions and fuel use over coming decades.
The four-year trial is part of the Cooperative and Automated Vehicle Initiative (CAVI). It is co-funded by the Motor Accident Insurance Commission and will be delivered with the support of several organisations including Ipswich City Council, Bosch Australia, and QUT's Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q). On-road testing is expected to occur in 2019.
Mayor Pisasale said Ipswich was leading the way in 'smart city' initiatives, opening Australia's first fully local government-funded innovation hub in March 2016 – Fire Station 101 – to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in Ipswich.
"In April, Fire Station 101 won the Local Government Managers Australia award for innovation. It has been a runaway success that has redefined and reshaped Ipswich's innovation landscape," he said.
Since opening, Fire Station 101 has attracted 70 startup members, spawned 15 new digital technology companies, delivered 110 events attended by 1,230 people, inspired a young entrepreneur program that has been established in local high schools and secured seed funding for multiple prototype developments.
"We have adopted a Smart City Blueprint which sets out our goal to become Australia's most prosperous and liveable 'smart city'," Mayor Pisasale said.
"The Smart City Program is about identifying and driving innovation, not only within Council, but right across the wider community.
"It takes a human-centred design approach, focusing on the needs of our community, industry, support services and visitors," he said.
"The Ipswich Smart City Program is focused on advancing jobs, economic growth and liveability for Ipswich and Queensland.
"As one of Australia's fastest growing cities, we have a unique opportunity to define our future prosperity."
Recognised as one of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities of the world, as assessed by the New York-based 'smart cities' think tank Intelligent Communities Forum (ICF), Ipswich is gaining a reputation as a global leader in the application of digital innovation to advance community prosperity and liveability.
"The industries that have driven economic growth in our city for the past 100 years will not be where the opportunities for prosperity are in the future, so it's essential we take steps now to keep Ipswich ahead of the game," Mayor Pisasale said.
"Council is driving a City Digital Transformation agenda. We are integrating technology into our business to drive efficiencies, improving service delivery for residents and preparing the broader community to thrive in a digital future.
"We are the first council in Australia to have presented three major public spaces as testbeds for 'smart city' technology platforms allowing new solutions and opportunities to be implemented, assessed and potentially scaled in quick time.
"We are driving an entrepreneurial mindset in Ipswich, especially among our city's youth – going beyond delivering digital technology to create a truly connected community, full of ideas, energy and innovation."