South Australia to invest $10m in driverless car technology

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The South Australian state government will fork out $10 million worth of grants in an effort to boost testing and R&D of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies in the state.

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The initiative was launched by Transport and Infrastructure Minister Stephen Mullighan at the 23rd World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), which opened in Melbourne on Monday.

Making the announcement, Mr Mullighan said the Government will invite companies, industry bodies, research institutions and other organisations to submit creative proposals focusing on autonomous vehicle testing and demonstrations, as well as on connected vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure pilots and demonstrations.

“Connected and autonomous vehicles can deliver huge benefits to South Australia – they have the capacity to reduce congestion, save lives and help people get around our community with more freedom,” the Minister said.

“We need to know more about what changes are needed to our roads and our laws so that this technology can improve safety on the roads, improve mobility for people with disabilities and reduce congestion and emissions.”

He said the initiative is inviting creative proposals that will accelerate the roll-out of these technologies on the state’s roads and open up new opportunities for South Australian businesses and its economy.

“We already have world leading companies in this field. Cohda Wireless, SAGE Automation and Sydac are all based in South Australia and are some of our most impressive success stories,” the Minister added.

“Transforming the South Australian economy depends on our ability to adopt new ways of doing things, using advanced technologies to build globally competitive, high-value firms and sustainable, well-paid jobs. It is estimated that the driverless vehicle industry will be worth $90 billion globally by 2030. Getting our State involved early will open up new opportunities for South Australian businesses and our economy.”

The initiative builds on SA’s previous achievements in this field, which saw the state stage the first on-road trials in the Southern Hemisphere and host the first international driverless car conference in Australia. SA also introduced Australian-first legislation to allow for on-road trials of autonomous vehicles.

According to Mr Mullighan, the state government will only fund experiments conducted within the state, with overseas-based partners encouraged to participate by partnering with local SA small to medium enterprises, universities and other organisations.