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Future Freight Networks : Yearbook 2018
110 ALC FORUM 2018 analysis, and adjust their products and services accordingly. He advised that his own organisation in Australia has recently employed a significant number of data scientists. Ian Christensen, Managing Director of iMove CRC, warned that a high level of technological uncertainly could be hampering progress. Uncertainty means higher risk and lower investment, unless community attitudes are monitored to assess take-up rates. Regulators need to be working to establish standards now, so that investors can make the right decisions and community confusion about different products and standards can be minimised. Retter said that the National Transport Commission would not let automated cars on the road until robust liability laws covering the whole life of the vehicle are in place. He raised the possibility of mandating connectivity in urban areas for safety and efficiency. Christensen tempered that view by suggesting that manufacturers (and customers) are mainly interested in fully autonomous, not connected, vehicles. There is a need for both concepts to be better understood by the wider community – general public awareness about connected vehicles is still relatively low. Session chair Simon Ormsby drew the discussion back to freight-specific transport by asking panellists to make a prediction about when we are likely to see autonomous B-double trucks carrying freight on the Hume Highway. Responses varied from two years to 30 years. Regardless of the disparity of views on that subject, there was a general consensus that governments and regulators should assume the shorter time frame will apply, and direct their preparatory activities accordingly. The last thing the freight logistics industry in Australia can afford is to be ‘caught out’ with an inadequate regulatory regime, particularly when our international trade competitors are already making the necessary adjustments. Paul Retter AM, Charlie Macdonald and Ian Christensen