The NSW government will spend $9.5 million building the largest government-run autonomous vehicle testing site in the southern hemisphere.
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway announced the upgrade to the ‘Future Mobility Testing and Research Centre’ near Orange earlier this week.
The emerging automotive technologies research facility in Cudal is expected to eventually become Australia’s first certification site for driverless vehicles.
“We want to include simulated city scenarios, pedestrian interaction test zones and dynamic driverless vehicle test environments like rain, tunnels, and dirt roads,” Farraway said.
Farraway said the upgraded hub would research crash prevention technologies, including lane keep assist, and advanced autonomous braking systems that the state government aimed to make mandatory on all new vehicles entering the market by 2023.
“Bringing the facility in line with 2023 local and international testing requirements will see the facility’s capability further expand to accommodate the growing breadth of active safety testing required by independent safety authority, Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP),” he said.
ANCAP chief executive Carla Hoorweg said there will also be a flow-on benefit to consumers.
“Having access to world-class active safety testing facilities locally means Australian consumers and road users reap the benefits of a safer vehicle fleet,” she said.
“The upgrades enable means vehicles can be tested to the latest, globally-recognised safety standards, and ensure manufacturers are encouraged to supply newer, safer vehicles to our market.”
The 32-hectare facility was built in Cudal’s old local airstrip in 2019 and employs six on-site staff and five based in Syndey.
The hub’s future mobility testing and assurance team support the NSW autonomous vehicle trial framework, which approves connected and autonomous vehicle trials on the NSW road network.
Farraway said investing more in the Future Mobility Testing and Research Centre would also drive investment in the regional community living in and around Orange.
“These upgrades deliver an economic boost to local businesses by generating at least $2 million in revenue each year through commercial testing opportunities,” he said.