South Australia is the next state to follow the trend in autonomous bus trials, announcing a trial of a driverless shuttle at Adelaide Airport as part of a range of projects.

The South Australian Government has set aside $5.6 million of funding for driverless vehicle projects as part of its $10 million Future Mobility Lab Fund commitment.

Adelaide Airport will receive $1 million from the fund to trial three electric driverless shuttles operating between the long-term carpark and the terminal.

According to the airport’s managing director Mark Young, the autonomous vehicles are appealing because of their agility and ability to be powered through the site’s existing infrastructure.

“This will be a flagship project that, following a full feasibility study, has the potential to substantially improve customer service to match the expectations of visitors and travellers to our modern gateway airport,” Young said.

“A small fleet of autonomous electric vehicles would replace our current diesel powered shuttle buses, servicing our long-term and staff car parks. Their compact size and agility will enable them to operate on a dedicated path at an increased frequency, potentially operating 24 hours a day, reducing road congestion and significantly lowering carbon emissions.

“The project will include new bus shelters that feature solar PV, LED lighting, CCTV and wi-fi, while the buses will use a dedicated charging station partially fed by our existing onsite 1.17MW solar PV generation.”

Leading international driverless car supplier RDM Group will also receive $1 million towards a $1.8m driverless cargo pod trial, transporting goods at the Tonsley precinct, with the aim of developing a market-ready autonomous delivery pod within a year.

Another $1m will go to Flinders University, which will collaborate with the RAA on a three-year $4 million driverless shuttle project.

“As a Government we have been focused on fostering the development of an autonomous technology industry in South Australia to claim a share of an industry predicted to be worth $90 billion globally by 2030,” said transport and infrastructure minister Stephen Mullighan.

“Our Australian-first driverless car trials, our Australian-first law changes to allow for on-road trials and our international Driverless Car Conference sent a message that we are the place to do business when it comes to autonomous vehicle technology.

“The success of those efforts is more than apparent in the overwhelming interest generated by the Future Mobility Lab Fund, with applications for more than twice the value of the fund from 42 proposed projects,” he added.