Transurban funding R&D for safer and smarter Australian roads

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Melbourne-based toll roads operator Transurban has awarded A$100,000 (US$78,800) grants to three pioneering research and development projects targeting safer and smarter Australian roads in the latest round of its Innovation Grants Program.

The Transurban Innovation Grants Program is aligned to the company’s ‘Think Long Term’ sustainability pillar. Since the inception of the program in 2015, the company has engaged with world-class researchers and organizations to develop ideas to advance the transport industry and to improve safety for motorists.

Previous grant recipients have included the University of Newcastle for its work to develop a revolutionary, new material for road safety barriers, and RMIT in Melbourne to trial cutting-edge technology to determine whether noise cancelation and transformation can create meaningful benefits for residents who live near motorway sound walls.

The successful 2017 Innovation Grant recipients are:

• University of Melbourne – Research into a speed sensor with LED lights, which once attached to the road surface could provide real-time customized signals encouraging speeding drivers to slow down;

• Imagine IM2 – A trial of a pressure sensor made from graphene that, when constructed into the motorway surface, would enable a ‘smarter’ road capable of reporting on traffic density, weight, volume and road surface condition;

• Deakin University – The development of a high-energy absorbing overlay made of recycled plastic and textile fibers to cover roadside wire rope barriers, with the aim of reducing injury severity in crashes involving motorcyclists.

“Each of the successful research projects will trial local Australian technologies to address known safety or efficiency challenges affecting our nation’s busiest motorways,” explained Transurban’s CEO, Scott Charlton. “This year’s recipients are researching new materials and technology that could one day benefit the transport sector and community as a whole, with potential applications far broader than our own road networks.”

In its FY2017 Statement, Transurban also announced that later this month it will start Australia’s first trial of driverless vehicles on a toll road in real-traffic conditions on its Melbourne CityLink network. The company will also trial connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) on its 95 and 495 Express Lanes around Washington DC in the USA, with testing to begin mid-2018.

In addition, Transurban is also trialling mobile GPS tolling technology on 1,000 motorists in Sydney, which involves a mobile phone app that can be used to track where a vehicle has traveled on toll roads, and then relays a message to the driver outlining payment options.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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