Amit Trivedi: Highly motivated for high-automation
Amit Trivedi is the Program Manager at Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads’ (TMR) Cooperative and Highly Automated Driving pilot (CHAD), which is seeking to understand the safety benefits and impacts of introducing cooperative and highly-automated vehicles on to Queensland roads.
He will be speaking at iMOVE Conference 2022, taking place in Sydney on 14 and 15 November 2022. He is a panel member on the session, Latest developments in robotics and vehicle automation.
Is it just CHAD you’re working on, Amit or are you involved in the bigger CAVI Initiative?
CHAD is part of TMR’s Cooperative and Automated Vehicle Initiative (CAVI). As I am responsible for the delivery of CHAD pilot, my primary focus is on CHAD and have minimal involvement in other CAVI projects.
Under the CHAD banner, we currently have eight projects and each of these projects has its own scope and resources. The common thread for all projects under CHAD banner is the research vehicles ZOE1 and ZOE2.
ZOE1 and ZOE2 research vehicles were developed by our partners QUT and VEDECOM respectively by instrumenting Renault Zoe vehicles.
Which of course is something iMOVE is a part of. Where are we up to with the CHAD program? What’s been accomplished and what’s just ahead?
Out of current eight projects, two have already been delivered (iMOVE 1-007 and 1-021), four are scheduled to be delivered in the second half of 2023 and the remaining two are at the initial stages.
- How automated vehicles will interact with road infrastructure
- HD maps for automated driving – literature review (project final report)
- Cooperative and Highly Automated Driving Safety Study – Four work packages/projects
We are also in negotiations to initiate further two projects in partnership with iMOVE and QUT:
- Using crowdsourced data to improve road management
- Safety risk evaluation of the remote operation of HAVs
And you’ve run ZOE2 so far in Brisbane and Bundaberg. Anywhere else?
One of our projects seeks to improve public’s awareness of the automated vehicle technology. The scope of this project requires us to deliver two dynamic demonstrations in the South-East Queensland and two dynamic demonstrations in the regional Queensland. So far, we have delivered dynamic demonstrations at Shailer Park (South of Brisbane), Bundamba (near Ipswich) and Bundaberg. We are currently planning a dynamic demonstration in regional Queensland to be delivered in 2023.
During our dynamic demonstrations members of public are offered an opportunity to experience automated driving on public road at speed of up to 50kmph, interacting with real traffic through pedestrian crossings, roundabouts, intersections, car parks and cul-de-sacs.
How long have you been with TMR, Amit?
About 16 years.
And going back in time before that 16 years, what was it you did before TMR?
I’m a risk and assurance engineer, the majority of my early career was in the oil and gas sector. I worked on onshore and offshore oil and gas installations as a risk engineer and safety management systems consultant.
I also did a fair bit of work in the petrochemical, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries before joining the rail sector. When it comes to risk engineering, there’s a common thread in all these sectors. Quantitative risk assessments carried out in oil and gas sector has provided a good foundation to implement various assurance techniques in transportation sector. Before joining the CAVI team, I was working within TMR’s rail safety regulation team.
So it was rail that was your entry into the transport sector?
Correct. In TMR, 12 years out of the 16 I worked in rail. Before joining the CAVI team in 2018, I was the delegated rail safety regulator of Queensland regulating 67 accredited railways.
And when did CAVI start, Amit?
CAVI started, I think, in about 2016 and the CHAD project started in 2018 when the agreement between TMR, QUT, and iMOVE was signed. I joined CAVI team in 2018 from the rail team.
And going even further back in time Amit, where and what did you study?
I have two degrees, mechanical engineering and maritime engineering. It was through the maritime engineering degree that I ended up working in the oil and gas sector.
And where did you study?
I received my Mechanical Engineering degree from the S.P.University, India and Maritime Engineering degree from the University of Tasmania.
Leaving the real world for a moment, let’s get a couple of hypotheticals happening. As you’re up in Brisbane, let’s call you the Emperor of Queensland. You want to improve a particular area in transport, you have unlimited budget and unlimited power. What would you do?
Very interesting question. Since it’s a hypothetical question, I can be a bit more creative here I guess.
Indeed. Put on that Emperor hat!
As part of my role I keep myself abreast with the developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI). I once read an interesting article about how a police department, I think it was in Florida, used certain data to predict where the crime could potentially occur next before the crime has occurred. That intrigued me and I thought OK, well this is an interesting area to think about.
So, if I had a lot of money and obviously as you said, a lot of power, I would look into the giant bucket of data and try to work out how we could manage and maintain our network by predicting goods and passenger movements using AI. We could act ahead of the potential problem, fixing things before they went pear-shaped.
What I’m talking about is not just the data coming in from the conventional traffic management centres alone, but larger scale data, data going beyond the conventional road management. Things like data coming from the weather bureau, from the Agricultural Department advising of potential harvest and associated freight movements per region, certain economic indicators, crowdsourced data providing early warnings of the asset degradation and so on. We could then try to remain a step ahead in our asset management and traffic management practices.
It’s like the book/film Minority Report, but you’re doing it for transport rather than crime. In part two of this hypothetical, you’ve been downgraded. You are only the Mayor of Brisbane now, so you’ve clearly got less power and less money. What Brisbane problem would you attack with a limited budget and a limited timeframe that would have a good impact?
What comes into my mind immediately concerns the upcoming 2032 Brisbane Olympics and Paralympics events. I would love to showcase our technological prowess by having an automated system connecting the venues and athletes’ villages and providing a guaranteed quick transportation solution for the athletes. That’s something I think we could/should pursue.
They did that in the last Olympics in Japan in 2020, running driverless shuttles. Did you see much of how that went?
Not much. The little bit I know is that it did not go well, there were some issues including a crash. I don’t think the technology was proven enough at the time, plus the shuttles were a little slow to be truly effective as a mass transport solution.
OK, back to the real world now, of all the work you’ve done, be it in petrol, oil and gas or rail, maritime or CAVI, what work is it you’re most proud of to date?
Back in 2011/2012 when I was still working in rail, I led a project which developed a business case investigating 37 signalling technologies for the South-East Queensland Rail network. Following technical evaluation, capacity impact modelling and cost benefit analysis, European Train Control System Level 2 (ETCS L2) was recommended for implementation.
From that business case, the Queensland Government allocated $634 million for ETCS L2. And as we speak currently the technology is being implemented on the Brisbane rail network.
And only took 10 years.
Yes, brownfield signalling system implementation projects are very complex. Besides being complex, one needs to also align the implementation with major projects such as Cross River Rail.
Well time gap or not the important thing is that the work has now been done. Looking ahead a little bit, when your various tasks within CAVI finish, what might you like to do next and be it a real opportunity to do so or a desire to do so?
All my life I’ve had a passion for technology, especially in control engineering. Throughout my career, even when I was in oil and gas sector, and in rail, I maintained a hobby in automation by programming various programmable logic controllers and microcontrollers for hobby projects out of my garage.
So my current role fits well with my long-held passion. This is what I have always enjoyed doing. So, to answer your question, what I’ll be doing next, well I have a hobby project in my mind which I may pursue if time permits. I would like to build a recreational submarine and take it out into Moreton Bay and explore the area.
Your submarine. Will it be automated or manned?
Obviously, it will have some elements of automation in it.
Last question, Amit. In the next three to five years, what is it in the fields of transport, smart cities, smart mobility that most excites you?
The roadmaps that some of the tech companies have been providing fits very well with the NTC’s roadmap for a national automated vehicle regulator by 2026 in Australia.
We can expect L3/L4 consumer vehicles with limited ODD, such as on highways, entering the market around 2026, albeit in a very limited number. We could potentially see robotaxi service provider entering Australian market, initially on trial basis.
There are also possibilities of connecting a container freight hub with a port through automated container platforms during off peak hours, thus expanding port’s capacity and utilising excess road capacity during off peak.