Advance, Australia fair

Collaboration delivers better results faster. The Australian Integrated Multimodal Ecosystem (AIMES) wants to talk and work with you.
David Bonn provides the introduction

In today’s fast-changing landscape where innovation is the pathway along which many companies, academic institutes and clients need to go, working in collaboration locally and internationally can help deliver better results faster, while covering a wider range of challenges.

The use of live test labs to enable researchers, suppliers, buyers and users to gain invaluable insight into the technology and how it impacts lives in the living environment of tomorrow is becoming a common tool for many countries. We see test labs being established in many locations across the globe.

The cost of establishing such test facilities are not trivial. Some test beds have been established through academia/business/government partnerships where the creation of a test bed has been part of a government’s strategy to develop world-class testing infrastructure in order to support the development of innovative products in that country and through the export of these innovative products, enhance the employment opportunities in-country. Deploying these technologies in their own country benefits their citizens and acts as a Use Case demonstration of their capabilities.

By creating a focused test bed, government and industry will be able to rapidly accelerate the development of innovative technology and management approaches, grow intellectual capital in this field, attract overseas investment and create a national ecosystem that covers all testing requirements from product design, software analytics, management software through to on-road testing. By using a live environment, the impact and acceptability by users is able to be validated and empirically measured.

Wherever we are in the world we are facing increasingly complex and inextricably linked challenges such as air pollution, population growth and travel congestion. Cities need to find innovative approaches to addressing these complex challenges, not in a siloed fashion but in a wholistic (and, indeed, holistic) way recognising the impact one aspect, such as energy choices, can have on health and transport.

Live test bed demonstrators are an approach to enabling academia, city managers and suppliers to see the value of data on a city-wide scale. This awareness supports better decision-making and a greater understanding of short--to-long impacts on the living environment. The digital technologies deployed in a test bed help address environmental, economic and financial challenges. A successful outcome of investment in a live test bed is market creation and investment for businesses and SMEs and the creation of an exciting and healthy environment for citizens to live, work and play.

"A successful outcome of investment in a live test bed is market creation and investment for businesses and SMEs and the creation of an exciting and healthy environment for citizens"

Given we are facing global challenges a benefit of collaboration between test bed operators is achieved through the sharing of insights into how individual test beds have tackled barriers and found new innovative approaches and opportunities. The sharing of results, good and bad, will enable all involved parties to gain a more comprehensive understanding of shared challenges. Let’s not repeat a trial when we already know that it was successful somewhere else in the world rather let us take that success and build on it and progress the innovation even further. We all win by taking the collaborative approach.

One such established live test bed is the Australian Integrated Multimodal EcoSystem (AIMES). It is a world-first living laboratory based on the streets of Melbourne. AIMES was established in 2016 to test highly integrated transport technology with a goal to deliver safer, cleaner and more sustainable urban transport outcomes. The University of Melbourne’s Transport Technologies research group is taking a leading role in testing and implementation, working closely with government and leading local and international industry sectors via the AIMES partnership.

The AIMES team has recognised that an effective transport system is essential to the liveability of a city and a key driver of competition in the global marketplace. With current transport infrastructure under stress, the AIMES ecosystem provides a unique platform for collaborative trials of technology that integrates the movement of all road users (people and vehicles) with transport infrastructure – all carried out within 6km2 grid on the streets of inner city Carlton, Melbourne. It has the luxury of having an existing array of ‘multimodal’ transport — connected vehicles, connected public transport, connected pedestrians and cyclists and smart public transport stations. Located on the fringe of Melbourne’s central business district, AIMES comprises an ideal mix of road users, road types, infrastructure and traffic challenges:

  • Local roads with low speed and low traffic – ideal for testing on-road intelligent transport technologies and exploring applications for connected and automated vehicles

  • Major arterial roads with heavy traffic, trams and buses – ideal for collecting live traffic data and live simulation

  • A mixed commercial and retail strip – ideal for connected freight and city logistics

  • Several bus and tram routes – ideal for connected public transport testing

  • Major cycling routes and one of the busiest districts used by pedestrians to walk to work – ideal for smart non-motorised applications of connected transport systems

The connected AIMES ecosystem makes up the largest ever inner city grid of streets mapped with diverse, intelligent and distributed sensors to monitor, in real-time, the flow of vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and public transport through the grid. The ecosystem enables in-depth testing and unprecedented implementation of connected transport technology. It provides a platform for government, industry and academia to work collaboratively to explore better transport outcomes in a dynamic real-world environment including: Real-time information to users; real-time, proactive operational management; prevention of traffic incidents and congestion; comprehensive testing ground for all connected and automated vehicles trials.

“The connected AIMES ecosystem makes up the largest ever inner city grid of streets mapped with diverse, intelligent and distributed sensors to monitor, in real-time, the flow of vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and public transport through the grid”

An example of collaboration that will deliver significant lessons applicable to many other international locations is the iMOVE project with Cubic Transportation Systems, University of Melbourne, VicRoads, Transport for Victoria and Transport Accident Commission (TAC) as the participants. This team has been established and will make use of the test bed infrastructure to undertake the project: The Implementation of a Multimodal Situational Awareness & Operations Regime Evaluation Platform. In this project, the team will evaluate the impact of delivering a software management environment to facilitate multi-modal transport management including autonomous vehicles. The project will use the AIMES infrastructure to prove enhancements to the central management solution delivered by Cubic Transportation, integration with the PTV AG predictive model configured by the University of Melbourne, enhanced use of the operational data available from VicRoads and Transport for Victoria while demonstrating that the safety of all transport users is paramount in the operation of the management system and the live environment.

Another example of collaborative working is the partnership between the University of Melbourne, Cisco, Cohda Wireless, TAC, VicRoads and WSP. They have recently has completed a round of trials in the AIMES ecosystem, again leveraging the infrastructure of the test bed to understand more about the integration of connected and automated vehicles, and the benefits of using edge computing. The team undertook a series of trials aimed at enabling faster cooperative and automated vehicle (CAV) response times to impending events and to enable effective assessment of threats to vulnerable road users (VRUs) in particular as well as CAVs. The trials were aimed at delivering a better understanding of the benefits of deploying an Internet of Things (IoT) Data Fabric based on edge and fog computing embedded at the infrastructure level (road intersections).

While the AIMES team will continue to use the ecosystem in Melbourne to undertake world-leading innovative research in a live environment, it is actively seeking to work in collaboration with other international like-minded bodies to share findings, projects, products, problems and opportunities to enable us all to achieve an enhanced understanding of how to best deliver tomorrow’s transport environment. The ITS European Congress 2019 in Brainport, Netherlands, taking place between 3 and 6 June, represents an ideal opportunity to start the collaboration process.


Dirk Van de Meerssche, Honorary Fellow of the University of Melbourne, AIMES Founding Director, iMOVE Australia Director, ITS Australia Director, Strategic Advisor Cubic and CEO SLS will be attending the congress and would welcome the opportunity to talk in more detail about collaboration opportunities. Dirk can be contacted at

David Bonn is the founder of Smart Business Solutions

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