The NSW government has announced it will set aside $10 million as part of the state budget, which will announced on Tuesday, to expand trials of driverless cars.
Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and long-term supporter of driverless cars Andrew Constance said while the arrival of mainstream driverless cars may feel out of reach, the technology is already being tested – and it’s necessary to have the funds to back it.
“Having a dedicated fund for trials will mean that government, universities, the private sector and start-ups can partner together to test and gain insights into how these technologies will shape our future cities and regions,” he said.
“Driverless vehicles are going to change the playing field and open up so many new opportunities to provide personalised transport services.”
The $10 million fund to be split over four years will be administered by Transport for NSW’s Smart Innovation Centre, which will be tasked to identify relevant projects and partnerships.
Rita Excell, executive director of the Australian and New Zealand Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI), said the funding will be a chance to boost testing, research and development of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.
“This investment will boost local testing, research and development of driverless vehicle technologies, which will ensure that NSW is strongly positioned to claim its share of an industry predicted to be worth $900 billion globally by 2025,” she said.
“This grant funding allows ADVI program partners and others to advance testing, research and development of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies to determine which technology options best fit Australian conditions and needs, and positions local organisations to secure a share of a specialised high-tech international export market, that ADVI predicts will create more than 16,000 jobs for Australians in the years ahead.”
“Investment announcements across the nation for driverless vehicle research, trials and early deployment have now exceeded $100m, and activity is well underway in most parts of the country. Over the next few years we can expect hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent upgrading Australia’s road infrastructure and systems to support ITS and future mobility solutions.”
Legislation to allow the trial of automated and connected vehicles in NSW passed last year.
The first trial to come off the back of that legislation is a driverless smart shuttle at Olympic Park. The two-year trial sees Transport for NSW working with industry partners HMI Technologies, Telstra, NRMA, IAG and Sydney Olympic Park Authority to deliver the pilot.