Detailed simulations of travel patterns, cars that help buildings manage spikes in electricity demand and vehicles that chat to each other about traffic hazards are among the innovative projects being explored by a new transport research hub at UNSW.

The Research Centre for Integrated Transport Innovation (rCITI) seeks to reshape the way integrated transport policies are developed, by targeting elements such as planning, financing and real-time traffic management.

rCITI’s Director is Professor S. Travis Waller, who comes to UNSW from the University of Texas at Austin. He says the Centre will bring together researchers from a variety of fields whose work can help resolve critical transport issues.

Dr Waller, who is also the Evans & Peck Professor of Transport Innovation at UNSW’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said a key project within the Centre was a proposed “car-powered” electricity grid.

“If you can imagine a future where electric vehicles can plug into the grid, they will draw power out, but you can also pull power out of the vehicle,” he said.

Professor Waller said at present, the electricity used to balance rare spikes in energy consumption within buildings was typically “dirty and expensive”. A much cheaper, cleaner option would be to harness the power from an electric car, which could then balance out the electricity grid and the energy needs of a building.

Another rCITI project is examining ways for cars to share details like traffic hazards and road closures to other vehicles around them.

“Effectively, every vehicle becomes an information gatherer, and so the quality of information and timeliness of a response to traffic conditions are improved by an order of magnitude,” Professor Waller said.

rCITI has been established with funding support from UNSW, consultants Evans & Peck and National ICT Australia (NICTA).

Media contact: Alexander Symonds | UNSW Media Office | 9385 1933