Visionary biophysicist, Dr Gary Ellem, says an opportunity exists to prevent the leakage of $12 billion annually in importation costs associated with the purchase and operation of private passenger vehicles in NSW. Dr Ellem’s new model for urban transport, the first of its kind to address structural weaknesses with gross domestic product (GDP), will feature at the inaugural Design, Interactive Technology and Greentech (DiG) Festival in Newcastle this October 2-5.

“Imagine a world where the significant purchase and operating expenses associated with vehicle ownership were eliminated, along with gridlock, parking and the pressure of rising oil prices.”

Dr Ellem says part of the solution may lie in the click of a button.

“Public transport icons on Google maps provide easily accessed alternatives to private vehicle use. It’s an example of the digital world helping to facilitate a new solution in the physical world.”

However a major barrier with this solution, says Dr Ellem, is the “low opportunity cost” of existing public transport options, which alienate users with “poor scheduling, limited coverage and unreliable access to wi-fi”.

“We need an environmentally sustainable system of transport that is responsive to advancing technology and changing lifestyles and also strengthens the economy,” says Dr Ellem.

A collaboratively consumed autonomous vehicle, as described by Dr Ellem, would prevent billions of dollars from going offshore as it uses existing road infrastructure, requires radically fewer vehicles, can be built locally, and can be operated using locally generated green power.

The model aligns with DIG Festival’s desire to promote and foster modern creativity and innovation in Australia in order to compete internationally beyond resource booms. Dr Ellem’s model for a collaboratively consumed autonomous electric vehicle could also pave the way forward in Newcastle’s long running debate on public transport.

Visit the DiG Festival website for the full conference program and registration.


The Herald | Opinion: Value in driving new ways with transport

Personal Pod Transport

Car 3.0 is an autonomous electric vehicle network set up for shared use that can operate on existing roads in traffic.

About Gary 

Dr Gary Ellem received his PhD in Biophysics from the University of Newcastle and followed on to lecture in Biology and Ecology.

He moved to an innovative technology development and consulting company the ‘Crucible Group Pty Ltd’ as a Senior Scientist and Strategic Analyst in the cleantech innovation space. As a private consultant he worked on projects such as the ‘Blueprint for a Low Carbon Hunter Valley’ and he has now rejoined the University of Newcastle as the Sustainable Futures Program Manager at the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment. In this role Dr Ellem has initiated the Carbon Valley 2050 think tank which has gone on to develop the Hunter Valley Electric Vehicle Festival and the Diamonds from Coal initiative.

Dr Ellem is an expert on sustainable industry development in resource intensive regions and is currently investigating strategic linkages between sustainability, corporate social responsibility and opportunities for transformational approaches to regional innovation and industry development.

Dr Ellem has registered IP in the fields of wireless signal communications, the thermal processing of Biomass and micro algae photobioreactor design.