The University of Newcastle, Australia

DiG does transport

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

DiG presenter proposes cities built for humans, not cars

Pod car model

Visionary biophysicist, Dr Gary Ellem, says an opportunity exists to prevent the leakage of $12 billion annually in importation costs associated with the purchase and operation of private passenger vehicles in NSW. Dr Ellem's new model for urban transport, the first of its kind to address structural weaknesses with gross domestic product (GDP), will feature at the inaugural Design, Interactive Technology and Greentech (DiG) Festival in Newcastle this October 2-5.

"Imagine a world where the significant purchase and operating expenses associated with vehicle ownership were eliminated, along with gridlock, parking and the pressure of rising oil prices."

Dr Ellem says part of the solution may lie in the click of a button.

"Public transport icons on Google maps provide easily accessed alternatives to private vehicle use. It's an example of the digital world helping to facilitate a new solution in the physical world."

However a major barrier with this solution, says Dr Ellem, is the "low opportunity cost" of existing public transport options, which alienate users with "poor scheduling, limited coverage and unreliable access to wi-fi".

"We need an environmentally sustainable system of transport that is responsive to advancing technology and changing lifestyles and also strengthens the economy," says Dr Ellem.

A collaboratively consumed autonomous vehicle, as described by Dr Ellem, would prevent billions of dollars from going offshore as it uses existing road infrastructure, requires radically fewer vehicles, can be built locally, and can be operated using locally generated green power.

The model aligns with DIG Festival's desire to promote and foster modern creativity and innovation in Australia in order to compete internationally beyond resource booms. Dr Ellem's model for a collaboratively consumed autonomous electric vehicle could also pave the way forward in Newcastle's long running debate on public transport.

Visit the DiG Festival website for the full conference program.

  • Sheena Martin
  • Phone: +61 2 4921 8714

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