Australia Is Becoming a Hotbed for Autonomous Innovations
Australia is looking to the future and finding driverless cars and other autonomous vehicles to be a top priority. Spacial Source reports that the state government has put AU$10 million into their Future Mobility Land Fund "to drive local development of autonomous vehicle technology."
As South Australia pioneered on-road driverless tests in the Southern Hemisphere and has already sorted their laws and restrictions, the government is putting their money behind a further push innovation in autonomous vehicle development.
The latest rounds of investments are going back to the people in the form of public transport. Adelaide Airport received AU$1 million to trial three electric autonomous shuttles, which will bring people to and from the long term parking lots and the terminals.
The same amount will go to Flinders University, which will work on an autonomous project with Royal Automobile Association of South Australia to shuttle students back and forth from public transport to campus. Students of the university will also be allowed input on the service.
The international driverless pod supplier RDM Group has also benefitted from the Future Mobility Land Fund, as they have been awarded AU$1 million to start transporting materials in Adelaide's innovation district. Choosing this supplier made perfect sense for the country, as the UK-based RDM Group has their Asia-Pacific headquarters in South Australia, which was opened in January 2017. The government hopes RDM Group will have a market ready version of a delivery pod ready within in a year.
Each of these iterations of autonomous pods will probably look more like a smart car than a Telsa, but implementing these kinds of technologies can increase public consciousness about driverless technology and provide valuable information about potential uses for it.
These investments are smaller than those in the US. For example, Columbus, Ohio won $40 million in grant money in 2016 from the Department of Transportation's Smart City challenge. It's interesting to see how different countries are implementing and investing in in autonomous technologies.