by Jennifer O'Brien

Feds inject funds to explore digital, evolving vehicle technologies

Mar 08, 2017
Digital Transformation

The Federal Government has earmarked $55 million over 10 years to explore intelligent transport systems, including self-drive vehicles, in a bid to improve traffic movement.

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator Arthur Sinodinos made the announcement as part of a larger plan to invest $151.5 million into a range of Australian industries, in four new Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs), from food and transport logistics to farming and honey bees, which will “deliver practical solutions to problems and produce tangible outcomes”.

On the transport front, the intelligent mobility and vehicle evolution (iMOVE) CRC’s research will help authorities make plans to reduce congestion, fuel use and emissions and improve transport productivity and competitiveness. The iMove CRC will explore digital and evolving vehicle technologies to help traffic to flow more smoothly. “This will result in reduced congestion, fuel use and emissions and improved national productivity and competitiveness,” Sinodinos said in a statement.

Industry experts in the transport and research sector have praised the move. Key members of the iMove CRC include the University of Sydney Business School’s Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) and the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering and IT.

Director of the ITLS, Professor David Hensher, said the grant is a clear demonstration of the central role the transport and logistics industry will play in improving competitiveness and productivity across the Australian economy.

“These funds will now be used by iMove CRC to explore digital and evolving vehicle technologies to increase the efficiency of passenger and freight flows, reduce congestion, fuel use, and emissions, and to improve productivity and competitiveness,” Hensher said. He said the ITLS is actively involved in the iMove CRC group through its focus on the research themes of intelligent transport systems and infrastructures; end-to-end freight solutions and enhanced personal mobility. In addition to Professor Hensher, the ITLS research team will include Professors Michael Bell, Michiel Bliemer, Stephen Greaves, Behnam Fahimnia, Corinne Mulley and Rico Merkert as well as a number of other academics and PhD students. From bees to soil

In rolling out the grants for the new CRC centres, Sinodinos welcomed the involvement of research stakeholders.

“I’m delighted that the new CRCs selected in this 18th funding round will involve interdisciplinary researchers working with industry to explore new processes, including digital technologies, to deliver improvements in strategic industry sectors,” he said.

Under the plan, a new CRC for High Performance Soils will receive nearly $40 million over 10 years to help farmers bridge the gap between soil science and farm management. “This will give them the tools and knowledge they need to make decisions on complex soil management issues,” Sinodinos said.

Meanwhile, $7 million over five years will be allocated to a new CRC for Honey Bee Products, which will help link unique floral hive sites to product quality control processes, creating a healthy product image for national and international markets.

A new Food Agility CRC will help Australia’s food industry grow its comparative advantage through digital transformation. The CRC will receive $50 million from the government over 10 years.

The CRC program is a competitive, merit based grant programme that supports industry-led and outcome-focused collaborative research partnerships between industry, researchers and the community.

Since its inception, Sinodinos said the Australian Government has invested more than $4.2 billion in innovation and research that is aimed at finding practical solutions for Australian industry, whether it is new products, processes or services.