French company Navya are bringing their driverless bus company to Australia. In a big boost for South Australia, they’ve chosen Adelaide as their HQ in Asia-Pacific.
The agreement followed discussions between Premier Jay Weatherill and Navya CEO Christophe Sapet in Paris. Investment Attraction South Australia has been working with Navya for the past 12 months to bring the project to fruition.
While South Australia is often attacked by the federal Government, their forward looking focus on use of renewable energy is said to be one of the big draw cards for Navya and likely why SA won the HQ over other states.
South Australia are also well know for hosting the first demonstration of a driverless vehicle in Australia on the South Eastern Freeway way back in 2015. Adelaide also hosted the first International Driverless Cars Conference in November 2015. While many locations around the world sort out the legalities of driverless vehicles ability to take to the roads, SA were relatively early in 2016 and certainly the first Australian state to permit driverless vehicle testing on Australian roads. This November Adelaide will again play host to the International Driverless Vehicle Summit.
Currently the buses are manufactured in Lyon, France and Detroit, Michigan, but a plant in Adelaide would secure operations in Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific. Not bad for a country that just ended car manufacturing.
Earlier in the year, I had the chance to ride in the fully autonomous 15-person bus at the VivaTech conference. The bi-directional journey along a serious of stops (off public roads) is a smooth and efficient ride and the Velodyne LiDAR sensors create a 360 picture of the environment around the bus. This allows the bus to safely slow to a stop should a pedestrian or animal get in the way.
A report by Intel predicts the autonomous vehicle industry will be worth US$7 trillion by 2050, of which 47 per cent is expected to occur in the Asia-Pacific region.
Premier Jay Weatherill said establishing a driverless car vehicle operation 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.
“South Australia is already leading the nation in driverless vehicle technology and this is the next logical step.
I look forward to partnering with Navya, as we work towards establishing their Asia-Pacific manufacturing operations here in South Australia.”
Navya CEO Christophe Sapet said the announcement is a natural progression in the company’s growth strategy.
“We are delighted to have been able to lay the groundwork of a partnership agreement with the Government of South Australia.”
I’m glad we’re done with the trials and we can help this technology get out to more places in the country and our part of the world. With Australia’s high labour costs, it is somewhat of a surprise. At the end of the day, being able to provide a new form of autonomous transport is fantastic to be a part of.
More information at Investment South Australia.