Deakin expert outlines new approach to smarter vehicle use

Deakin School of Engineering Professor Bernard Rolfe has highlighted Australia’s need to take a more considered approach to vehicle use and design practices after his team was awarded a grant under the Federal Automotive Engineering Graduate Program in April.

“Autonomous vehicles will disrupt the automotive sector, because within the next decade vehicles may be able to pick up passengers, make deliveries and earn money for their owner while the owner is busy at work,” he said.

Professor Rolfe said the world is currently undergoing a major shift with the electrification of vehicles and how we use transport overall.

The introduction of Uber in 2009 began the disruption to normal transport use, he said.

“The change in use is going to require a change in the interior configurations of vehicles, with more emphasis on working spaces, and clear separations between private and public spaces,” Professor Rolfe said.

Professor Rolfe’s team were recently awarded a $417,000 grant under the Federal Government’s Automotive Engineering Graduate Program.

The team is working with Australia bus bodybuilder Volgren to develop lightweight buses. They are also working with ford on hybrid material parts and structures for next generation electric vehicles.

“Electrification and automation will create new opportunities for radical changes in vehicle platforms. It’s critical that we accommodate that disruption by working on attracting Australian talent back to the automotive sector,” Professor Rolfe said.

“We need to train and cultivate our young engineers so they have experience in designing for multiple materials and processes – these people are going to be our domestic leaders in automotive engineering and our ambassadors for change in the industry.”

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