UTS research harnesses high-tech to keep us merrily moving on road and rail

 Photo by Simon_sees, Flickr

Photo by Simon_sees, Flickr

In summary: 
  • A new UTS transport research innovation hub will be partnering with road, bus and rail public transport service providers to develop and implement improved transport infrastructure
  • A multidisciplinary research team will enable existing transport services to be retrofitted while also delivering high-tech solutions to meet future passenger needs

Robotics and passenger-sensing technologies will drive research at a new UTS Transport Research Centre aiming for travellers in fast-growing cities to enjoy a better ride.

The centre will be a transport innovation hub with national reach, partnering with road, bus and rail public transport service providers to develop and implement improved transport infrastructure and public services.

The solutions-focused research approach by a multidisciplinary team will enable existing transport services to be retrofitted.It will also deliver high-tech solutions focused on future passenger needs and rising demand for public transport that is more comfortable, reliable, frequent and faster.

Officially launched this week by NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, the centre's researchers combine robotics, passenger-sensing technologies, data analytics and 3D data visualisation with the insights and know-how of transport providers working at the coal-face.

Tim Reardon, Secretary of Transport for NSW and Howard Collins, CEO of Sydney Trains also attended the launch with other government, industry and research stakeholders.

Minister Constance said the new Transport Research Centre was a great example of NSW leading the way when it comes to transport and technology.

"Innovation and technology will be key to improving the way we plan, build and use transport in the future," Mr Constance said. "As part of the NSW Government's Future Transport program we are partnering with industry, leading thinkers and academics at the cutting edge of technology and innovation to tackle the state's transport challenges.

"I am looking forward to developing a new partnership with UTS to explore how the technology being developed out of the new research centre can make a real difference to customers."

UTS Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Glenn Wightwick said ever-evolving digital information technologies, as with so many sectors, were driving rapid change in transport services and demanded boundary-crossing collaboration to deliver practical, affordable results fast.

"Such change brings not only challenges but also many new opportunities to make improvements, to creatively design cost-effective and efficient ways of doing things and in this case, make it possible for Australians to enjoy better travel," Professor Wightwick said.

"This research initiative will enable design and innovation thinkers, transport planners and traffic engineers, industrial designers, robotics engineers, mathematicians, economists, information and computer scientists to cause break-throughs in new technologies, systems and processes by attacking complex problems form many angles at once."

Technologies to improve traveller experiences that are being developed and rolled out by the centre include passenger information systems that permit operators to see how people move and are located within transportation spaces. If crowding occurs in one location while seats elsewhere are vacant, operators can advise passengers through a range of means to move to those locations.

Transport Research Centre leader Dr Michelle Zeibots said even small behaviour changes to alleviate delays in passengers boarding and alighting from public transport could cut travel times and costs, as well as improve travel experiences.

"The centre's research work will also deliver solutions to transport service providers to get more life from existing infrastructure - while also developing state-of-the-art features for future projects," Dr Zeibots said.

"The new research centre will work with government in all stages of delivering solutions to transport challenges, from prototyping through to the completion of projects and delivery of end products.

"UTS is able to draw on talent from across its disciplines to work with government and industry at all project stages, from idea to service output.

"Our researchers have already begun work with the Queensland Government. Last week they were based at Queensland Rail's Central Station collecting data using 3D robotic sensors as part of a three-year industry-funded research project.

"We look forward to working with the NSW Government on future transport projects and other Australian centres where travellers love being able to count on a regular, on time and comfy ride to wherever they need to go."