Queensland a connected transport innovator

New USC study to explore rapid changes in transport innovation.

Anyone who has been stuck in a peak-hour traffic jam or left stranded by a cancelled bus or train service is the potential beneficiary of a new research partnership between the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) and Queensland Government.

The project is designed to help prepare the state for futuristic transport that uses emerging technologies to better connect people and goods in more sustainable, efficient and convenient ways.

USC Senior Lecturer in Environmental Engineering Dr Helen Fairweather said the three-year Transport Academic Partnership, including the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ $730,400 contribution, was exciting for the wider community and environment.

Dr Fairweather said a foundation USC Chair of Sustainable Transport Engineering would be appointed soon at its Moreton Bay campus, which would become a field site for testing the cutting-edge transport ideas.

“Transport is changing rapidly and we need more research that targets the interface between civil infrastructure and the ‘internet of things’,” she said.

The “internet of things” is defined as a network of physical objects that are embedded with sensors, software and other technologies for connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the Internet.

Experts predict that on the roads of the future vehicles will be connected and able to communicate with each other and the infrastructure around them, potentially helping ease traffic congestion and avoid accidents.

University of the Sunshine Coast's Dr Helen Fairweather.

USC Senior Lecturer in Environmental Engineering Dr Helen Fairweather.

The creation of such a transport network that utilises communication between vehicles, infrastructure and individual mobile devices to more effectively plan the travel of vehicles is one way such a study could help improve the future of transport in our cities. 

“The key questions are: How do we move people and goods without relying on systems for fuel-emitting cars and how can technology help us achieve that?” Dr Fairweather said.

“It’s not just about electric cars and light rail. It’s about how telecommunications and advanced analytics can change how our transport network operates and how more sustainable service can be provided.” 

USC’s efforts to achieve a more sustainable future were recently recognised in the 2021 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, where USC placed 26th of 1115 universities worldwide.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the Queensland Government welcomed the opportunity to work with USC to look ahead at new, innovative ideas for the future of transport.
“This grant will enable USC to research and provide insights into the type of technologies we’ll all be using to move from A to B in the next few decades,” Mr Bailey said.
“Queensland is well-placed to be at the forefront of transport innovation and I look forward to the team’s work exploring how future technology can boost our capability to deliver a single, integrated transport network accessible to everyone.”