The state government of NSW has reinforced its position on driverless technology, committing to a new “Centre of Excellence” for autonomous cars in an effort to claim its stake as a leader in innovation.
One of Australia’s economic leaders, the state will also play host to an autonomous vehicle summit this coming October, thanks to an agreement inked between Transport for NSW and the Australia and New Zealand International Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI).
The move will assist the state in becoming an “automated vehicle mecca”, which ADVI chief Rita Excell says demonstrates the state’s forward thinking on advanced driving technologies.
“ADVI and our partners are very excited about this opportunity to align more closely with the work being undertaken in NSW to ensure the focus moves beyond limited trials and deployments to achieving true commercialisation of this technology as already seen in other parts of the world,” Excell said in a statement.
“This new collaboration takes the introduction of automated vehicles onto our roads to the next level and is sure to attract national and global attention,” she says.
The summit that will take place in October 2019 is expected to draw unprecedented interest in autonomous driving tech and put Sydney on the international stage.
“Transport for New South Wales has an ambitious and comprehensive program of works in place to best prepare the state for a world where driverless vehicles share the road, and they have ensured that this technology is at the very heart of its long-term transport vision – and ADVI is pleased at the opportunity to be part of that exciting journey,” Excell said.
“Future Transport 2056 is the first Strategy of its kind focused on harnessing the rapid advancement driverless technology and innovation across NSW’s transport system to transform the user experience, improve communities, and boost economic performance.”
The announcement of the Centre of Excellence comes just ahead of the NSW state election, and in contrast to the state opposition is focusing its innovation and transport-based policies on reducing vehicle emissions.
NSW Labor Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Yasmin Catley said to The Driven yesterday that it will be focusing on improving the state’s electric car charging infrastructure with a $10 million investment over 3 years, to provide 50 more charging sites, the locations for which will be decided in collaboration with the NRMA.
“We are also committing $1 million towards a community education campaign to enable a cultural change of operating and charging electric cars, and knowing where they can be recharged,” Catley says.
In addition, NSW Labor says it will put in place a target of 25 per cent of the state’s fleet to be electric by 2025, and amend building regulations such that all new apartments will have a ratio of one electric car charger per 10 units, with a similar target for buildings like shopping centres.
This is in contrast to the current LNP government’s own EV strategy that was announced in January, promising a $3 million co-investment towards charging infrastructure along regional corridors, $2 million for chargers in commuter carparks and a commitment to develop guidelines for charging standards and installation of EV chargers in service centres.
Independent and ex-Green member Jeremy Buckingham is also gathering forces in the lead up to the election, with an Upper House ticket announced today teeming with names from across the environmental spectrum.
Buckingham left the Greens in December 2018 citing a “rotten and corrupt” culture.
“My team and I are not political insiders, we’ll call it as we see it and will hold all sides of politics to account in the best interests of people, wildlife and our environment. We’re looking forward to working hard for a better, healthier future,” he said.
Buckingham has also made strong statements in regard to his stance on electric vehicles, calling for a comprehensive electric vehicle strategy that includes a wide range of measures designed to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles in NSW.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.