Revealing plans to develop a new generation of driverless vehicle – not just autonomous but also solar powered, Flinders University is in pole position to support Premier Jay Weatherill’s vision of South Australia at the centre of an autonomous vehicles industry.
Flinders University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Stirling, hosted the Premier and Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan at Flinders’ new $120 million Tonsley innovation hub, for their announcement that South Australia will be the first state to legislate to allow driverless vehicles on the roads.
The Premier also announced the state’s first driverless vehicle conference, to be held on 5 and 6 November – the second day of which will feature driverless valet parking at Tonsley.
Flinders has signed a memorandum of understanding with Australian road research leader the ARRB Group, putting the University on a firm footing to deal with future prospective partners including the RAA, Bosch, Volvo and Telstra.
The State Government’s initiative coincides with the announcement that Flinders has become a major sponsor of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.
Flinders is designing a vehicle for the 2017 event, as a forerunner to the development of the solar autonomous vehicle.
“Flinders has a well-deserved reputation as a leader in innovative technology and today marks the University’s first foray into developing a commercially viable autonomous solar vehicle,” Professor Stirling says.
“Imagine stepping from the train at Tonsley and into a sleek, solar powered, driverless vehicle that shuttles you to the main campus. Quick, clean, quiet and efficient – and not as far-fetched as it might sound,” said Professor Stirling.
“This is a unique opportunity for Flinders to take yet another leading role in applied research and practical problem-solving where engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics, chemistry and nano-science all have roles to play.
“I’m proud to be able to say that Flinders is once again at the cutting edge of a technology with significant implications for an economic transformation of South Australia, based upon advanced manufacturing, for the benefit of us all.”
UPDATE: The announcement has received extensive local and national media coverage ranging from the Australian newspaper to Wheels magazine. Comments by Professor Colin Stirling were featured in a front page story in the Advertiser, while Professor Rocco Zito of the School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics has been interviewed on ABC radio.