Driverless vehicles and the future with smart transport


Last week Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross T.D. looked to the future as he opened the annual meeting of the European Transport Conference in Dublin Castle.

Announcing that his Department is working on “Guidelines for testing autonomous vehicles on public roads”, Minister Ross said: “We are working with industry shareholders, other Government Departments and State agencies to develop guidelines. These will be supported by a National Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) roadmap and plan as well as a national strategy for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) generally. Public confidence in autonomous vehicles must be fostered.”

The Minister also noted that an important benefit of the intelligent transport systems, including autonomous vehicles, is their ability “to improve the efficiency of transport infrastructure, traffic management and mobility. Reducing greenhouse gases such as CO2 is an important objective of government, and while it requires a whole-of-Government approach it is imperative that the transport sector contributes significantly to the reduction effort.”

The Minister added: “We are tackling this challenge on a number of fronts including –

  • investment for new emissions-efficient public transport capacity as well as active transport such as cycling and walking
  • incentives to encourage transition to electric vehicles
  • increasing the proportion of biofuels in petrol and diesel
  • and working with our European partners to improve efficiency standards in new vehicles.”

Also taking place at the European Transport Conference, the International Transport Forum, launched a report examining the potential benefits of a shared mobility transport scheme in Dublin. Shared mobility refers to the use of shared taxis taking up to six passengers or taxi-buses taking 8-16 passengers. The Dublin report is part of an international study programme and was conducted in conjunction with the National Transport Authority. Similar simulations have been carried out to date on Lisbon, Helsinki and Auckland.

Ireland takes over the Presidency of the International Transport Forum in May 2019. The theme for the Irish Presidency is Transport and Innovation and this research serves to demonstrate how innovative transport solutions might be used alongside existing public transport investment plans.

The results of this study suggest that shared mobility could deliver very positive impacts to the Greater Dublin Area transport system and its users. A transport system, with shared mobility services replacing a substantial proportion of car travel, could lead to significant benefits in terms of reduced congestion and emissions. Furthermore, the benefits which shared mobility could bring in reducing the CO2 emissions and congestion are higher if a substantial portion of the car users in the area shift to the new shared modes.

Minister Ross has welcomed the publication of the report, saying, “It’s extremely important that we consider innovative transport services within Ireland’s cities as part of the overall package of mobility solutions. This is a very exciting time for transport as we transform the way we travel in our cities and regions.”