Driverless buses to be manufactured in Adelaide

By Melissa Keogh

There’s no need for Back to the Future’s Marty McFly and Doc Brown, as it appears the future is here.

The South Australian Government has announced that driverless buses will be made in Adelaide when French driverless auto company Navya establishes its Asia-Pacific manufacturing facility here.

Navya’s ARMA shuttle buses are electric, driverless, travel up to 45km/h and carry up to 15 people.

The technical design of the ARMA revolves around three factors including perception (detecting obstacles and understanding the environment in which the vehicle is located), decision (which “computes and determines” the itinerary) and navigation (applying the route of travel).

Premier Jay Weatherill met with Navya executive officer Christophe Sapet in Paris this week.

“Establishing a driverless car vehicle operation here in South Australia is the perfect bridge connecting our past in traditional vehicle manufacturing and our future in advanced manufacturing in a clean, carbon neutral environment,” Mr Weatherill says.

“South Australia is already leading the nation in driverless vehicle technology and this is the next logical step.”

The government says Navya, which also has manufacturing presences in France and Michigan, was attracted to SA’s carbon neutral and renewable energy focuses, which align with its own interests.

Navya is a world-leading driverless auto company that, for the past 10 years, has been working towards technological solutions for sustainable transport and mobility.

Navya executive officer Christophe Sapet says the project is a “natural progression in our growth strategy and we are delighted to have been able to lay the groundwork of a partnership agreement with the Government of South Australia”.

South Australia has paved the way for a place for driverless (also known as autonomous) electric vehicles on our roads in recent years.

In 2015 we hosted the first demonstration of a driverless vehicle in Australia on the South Eastern Freeway.

In early 2016 South Australia became the first Australian state to permit the testing of driverless vehicles on the road.

Earlier this year, the State Government announced three recipients of the $10m Future Mobility Lab Fund which supports the development of driverless vehicle technology.

The projects include driverless shuttles transporting visitors at the Adelaide Airport, driverless pods supplied by RDM Group to transport Goods at Tonsley, and driverless shuttles carrying students at Flinders University.

Details of the exact location of Navya’s manufacturing base, a project timeline and jobs created are yet to be released.

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This month’s I Choose SA for Industries stories are made possible by sponsor, the University of South Australia.