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The University of Melbourne will partner with American company Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS) and some 30 other organisations to develop a National Connected Multimodal Transport (NCMT) Test Bed, claimed to be the first of its type in the world.

Described as an ‘urban laboratory’, the NCMT Test Bed will use public roads and thousands of installed sensors to conduct large-scale testing and implementation of emerging technologies such as connected vehicles, roadways, freight, city logistics, public transportation, smart stations, pedestrians and cyclists.

The ultimate goal of the NCMT Test Bed, which will be located in an area adjacent to the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus, is to explore technologies that will help to reduce and manage congestion, particularly in areas where the existing infrastructure is not coping – and for which future upgrades could be prohibitively expensive.

Tom Walker, senior vice president and managing director of CTS Asia-Pacific, said: “Our transportation infrastructure is under severe pressure and this is only going to increase”.

“Governments need to make operations more efficient, while allowing customers to easily connect with all the services and infrastructure we have created.”

“To achieve this, cities need to take advantage of the massive amounts of data currently at their fingertips and realise new opportunities to connect different systems and create a level of higher intelligence about the system as a whole,” he added.

Cubic has already devised a cloud-based transport management solution, which forms the core of the NMCT Test Bed by providing a system for data usage and analysis by transport planners.

The Surface Transport Management Solution can connect to different systems and data sets to provide testers with a real-time view of travel across the network.

unimelb_cubic_ncmt_test-bed_01
Above: Tom Walker and Iven Mareels

Professor Majid Sarvi, professor in the department of infrastructure engineering at the University of Melbourne, said: “We are keen to establish long-term partnerships with leading transport engineering solutions providers”.

“The NCMT Test Bed will allow testing and implementation of connected transport in a real-world and dynamic environment.”

“[It is] an integrated platform connecting tools and enablers, which will empower governments and wider industry to examine different mobilities and transport scenarios in preparing for future smart cities,” he added.

The announcement comes after a number of automotive manufacturers and technology companies have announced the development of connected car and infrastructure technologies.

Locally, the New South Wales Government has announced a trial of vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology for heavy trucks in an effort to reduce Sydney’s growing congestion problems.

The system will detect when a heavy vehicle is approaching an intersection, providing longer green times and reduce the delays caused by trucks in high-traffic areas.

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