Transfers between Adelaide Airport’s terminal and long-term carpark are set to go driverless with the $2.8 million trial of a driverless shuttle.
It’s one of seven projects to claim a share of the State Government’s $10 million Future Mobility Lab Fund to drive local development of autonomous vehicle technology.
Autonomous cargo pods for the Tonsley Innovation Precinct and driverless shuttles for Flinders University students are also among the projects to win funding.
Adelaide Airport will receive $1 million from the fund to trial three electric driverless shuttles operating between the long-term carpark and the terminal.
Leading international driverless car supplier RDM Group will also receive $1 million towards a $1.8m driverless cargo pod trial, transporting goods at the Tonsley precinct, with the aim of developing a market-ready autonomous delivery pod within a year.
Another $1m will go to Flinders University, which will collaborate with the RAA on a three-year $4 million driverless shuttle project.
Initially the vehicle will shuttle students around the Tonsley campus, with future plans to extend to the Bedford Park campus and local public transport hubs.
Seven projects will share in $5.6 million from the first round of funding from the Future Mobility Lab Fund with other projects to be announced soon.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Stephen Mullighan said the State Government has focused on fostering the development of an autonomous technology industry in South Australia to claim a share of an industry predicted to be worth $90 billion globally by 2030.
“Our Australian-first driverless car trials, our Australian-first law changes to allow for on-road trials and our international Driverless Car Conference sent a message that we are the place to do business when it comes to autonomous vehicle technology.
“The success of those efforts is more than apparent in the overwhelming interest generated by the Future Mobility Lab Fund, with applications for more than twice the value of the fund from 42 proposed projects.
“Soon driverless vehicle technology will be taking to the roads in the Tonsley Innovation Precinct with RDM’s exciting cargo pod trial and Flinders University’s ambitious driverless shuttles.”
Adelaide Airport Managing Director Mark Young said Adelaide Airport was keen to be an early adopter in this space.
“This will be a flagship project that, following a full feasibility study, has the potential to substantially improve customer service to match the expectations of visitors and travellers to our modern gateway airport.
“A small fleet of autonomous electric vehicles would replace our current diesel powered shuttle buses, servicing our long-term and staff car parks.
“Their compact size and agility will enable them to operate on a dedicated path at an increased frequency, potentially operating 24 hours a day, reducing road congestion and significantly lowering carbon emissions.
“The project will include new bus shelters that feature solar PV, LED lighting, CCTV and wi-fi, while the buses will use a dedicated charging station partially fed by our existing onsite 1.17MW solar PV generation.”
RDM Group Chairman David Keene said when they looked at taking their driverless vehicle technology to other countries in the world, they recognised early on the appetite of South Australia to be at the forefront of developments in this field.
“The region shared our passion and vision and we decided that we would make Adelaide the base of our first international office, with view to creating a bespoke assembly facility here. This commitment has already paid off, with lots of initial interest and new opportunities we are currently exploring.
“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.”
Flinders University Vice Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling said as a leader in the area of autonomous systems, Flinders University is the perfect testing ground for these transformational technologies.
“The trial will include the development of a mobile app that will allow people arriving by bus or train to arrange for a shuttle to meet them and deliver them quickly and conveniently to their final destination on campus.
“As the trial advances, we’ll open it up to members of the public to be able to experience driverless transport.”
RAA Senior Manager Future Mobility Mark Borlace said RAA was enthusiastic about the trial which will have a number of different aspects.
“Trialling a self-driving vehicle in real-world conditions will allow us to test and see how to integrate this new technology as a first and last mile solution to Adelaide’s public transport systems.
“But just as important, it will also give members of the public an opportunity to see and experience the technology first hand.”
Australia and New Zealand Driverless Vehicle Initiative Centre of Excellence Executive Director Rita Excell said the grant funding was a positive investment which allows ADVI program partners to advance testing, research and development of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies to determine which technology options best fit Australian conditions and needs.
“This investment positions local organisations to secure a share of a specialised high-tech international export market, and, according to ADVI research, will create more than 16,000 jobs for Australians.
“ADVI looks forward to showcasing the progress of these projects at the 2nd International Driverless Vehicle Summit in Adelaide between 15th- 17th November 2017, as well as host a range of national and international delegates who are experts in their field.”
The $10m Future Mobility Lab Fund was announced in November 2016 to boost local testing, research and development of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.
In all, the State Government received 42 applications for grants worth more than $26 million.
If the Adelaide Airport trial is successful, the driverless passenger shuttles will be become a permanent part of its operations.
Students will collaborate on the Flinders University project with the long-term goal of developing driverless transportation as far as to the Westfield Marion shopping complex.
The $1.8 million RDM project will involve pods similar to the Pod Zero launched in 2016, which will be modified to carry global standard air freight containers.
The UK-based company opened its Asia-Pacific headquarters at the Tonsley Business Precinct in January.