AN AUSTRALIAN state is set to begin autonomous vehicle trials for its airport and one of its public universities.
The South Australian Government has just announced AU$5.6m in funding for driverless shuttle and pod trials to take place in its capital Adelaide
This will include $1m for Adelaide Airport to trial three electric driverless shuttles operating between the long-term parking lot and the terminal.
An additional $1m will go to Flinders University, which will collaborate with the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA) on a three-year $4 million driverless shuttle project to transfer students from public transport to its Bedford Park campus.
Another $1m has been awarded to international driverless car supplier RDM Group to begin transporting goods at Adelaide’s Tonsley innovation precinct, with the aim of developing a market-ready autonomous delivery pod within a year.
The projects are part of State Government’s $10 million Future Mobility Lab Fund to drive local development of autonomous vehicle technology.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Stephen Mullighan said the state’s Australian-first driverless car trials, autonomous car on-road laws and international Driverless Car Conference paved the way for the new projects.
The Adelaide Airport trial will have the autonomous shuttles replace the current diesel shuttle service to the long-term and staff parking lots.
The compact size and agility of the shuttles allow them to operate at an increased frequency, potentially operating 24 hours a day and will help to significantly lower carbon emissions.
Flinders University is a leader in autonomous car research and its trial will ferry students from nearby bus and train stops to its Bedford Park campus.
It will also include the development of a mobile app, which helps students arrange for a shuttle to pick them up.
Students will collaborate on the Flinders University project with the long-term goal of developing driverless transportation to a shopping complex 5 km a way.
The $1.8 million RDM project at the Tonsley precinct will involve pods similar to the company’s Pod Zero model, which will be modified to carry global standard air freight containers.
The UK-based company opened its Asia-Pacific headquarters at Tonsley in January.
RDM Group Chairman David Keene said South Australia was the ideal place to lead the development of driverless car technology.
“The funding announcement today will accelerate one of these exciting ventures and we are looking forward to working with the Tonsley Innovation Precinct to deliver one of the world’s first driverless cargo pods,” he said.
Other major tenants in the hub include Siemens, ZEN Energy and the South Australian Drill Core Library.
The innovation hub has been specifically designed to enable businesses, industries and companies to collaborate with researchers and tertiary students.
It will also be included in the South Australian Governments GigCity project to include Gigabit internet speeds for key industry precincts.
Another six projects will share in the $5.6 million from the Future Mobility Lab Fund’s first round, with other projects to be announced soon.