Driverless vehicle experts get hands on experience in South Australia
Delegates at the 3rd International Driverless Vehicle Summit in Adelaide have witnessed live deployments of autonomous vehicles, the most in any part of Australia.
Autonomous shuttle FLEX transports passengers from a nearby train station to the Tonsley Innovation Precinct in Adelaide.
Rita Excell, the Executive Director of the Australia and New Zealand Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI) and organiser of the summit said much had changed since the South Australian government sponsored the first meeting in 2015.
“Our initiative started in 2015 and at that time we closed a road to be able to deploy some technology that now is readily available in passenger vehicles from a whole suite of manufacturers. So that’s how fast this industry is moving,” she said.
Excell said that more than 300 delegates would see how South Australia was leading the nation in the adoption and creation of driverless technologies, which she said would be a $900 billion economy by 2025.
“We are showcasing Australian expertise, Australian industries that are thriving based on the investment that governments are making, including the South Australian government, in this sector and positioning themselves into a global marketplace.”
South Australia is the only state in Australia with six deployments of different driverless uses, including buses, pods and cars.
The state is home to Cohda Wireless, a leading provider of technology for autonomous vehicles, including its new V2X technology that the company tested on the city streets of Adelaide this week. The V2X technology allows vehicles to see around corners and locate other vehicles, even in an ‘urban canyon’ where tradition GPS is not accurate.
French company EasyMile, which opened its Asia Pacific headquarters in Adelaide in June, is now testing its EZ10 driverless shuttle in a closed loop from the former Holden parking lot to a busy hospital in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, and announced today it would expand its trial to the regional town of Renmark, along the River Murray in South Australia.
In the south of the city, at the Tonsley Innovation precinct, two different driverless vehicles are being used.
The FLEX bus, a French-designed Navya Arma electric shuttle, can be booked with a smartphone to transport up to 12 people from the local train station to the precinct, while Aurrigo pods rove the extensive campus to transport individuals.
American company Local Motors has been testing its Olli 10 passenger shuttle at Tonsley ahead of a deployment later this month on a busy 1km stretch of esplanade along the suburban coast.
Local Motors has teamed up with SAGE Automation, a leading South Australian technology company based at Tonsley, for the trial, with SAGE developing a integrated bus stop for driverless shuttles. Named Matilda, the transportable pod gives waiting commuters essential information on touch screens and includes interactive sign language for the hearing impaired.
Excell said the ADVI represented the entire industry, including partners in services and support, the developers designing cities around which the technology will work, the taxi industry, insurance companies, software solutions and e-commerce platforms.
“ADVI has 127 partners from the wider eco-system, so it’s not just the organisations that people are familiar with that are building the technology, it’s all the other allied industries,” she said.
“The e-commerce companies are looking at what you do when you are in the vehicle and you are not driving any more — that becomes a consumer opportunity,” Excell said.