The Irish government has unveiled a €4.2m national research programme on driverless vehicles as it seeks to become a major global centre for autonomous vehicle research.
Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, launched the research collaboration, which will be led by Lero, the Irish Software Research Centre.
The programme, backed by Science Foundation Ireland, brings together researchers from Irish academia, global automotive firms and Irish companies to collaborate on key challenges facing the development of driverless vehicles.
“I am delighted to be back here in the University of Limerick to launch this exciting €4.2 million research collaboration on driverless vehicles, which includes a contribution by Government of over €2 million through Science Foundation Ireland,” said Humphreys.
“Future Jobs Ireland is all about embracing innovation and technological change and this type of project is a great example of the capacity we have here in Ireland to be at the forefront of these cutting-edge developments.”
Lero Director Professor Brian Fitzgerald said: “Revenues from autonomous systems have been projected to be worth over $100 billion by 2030. There is no reason why Ireland cannot be a serious research player in this vital sector.
“For example, we are already working with companies such as Valeo in Tuam on autonomous vehicle research and it is Ireland’s variable climate and streetscape which gives it an advantage over the more uniform climate and road networks of, for example, San Francisco.”
Dr Aisling O’Driscoll, funded investigator with CONNECT, the SFI Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications and lecturer at University College Cork, said: “Connectivity is of central importance for autonomous vehicles, which will need to communicate and share information with each other, with the city infrastructure and with vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.
“Working with our industry partners, we will explore ways to make communication networks faster, more reliable and capable of handling increased information flows, while preserving privacy.
“Ultimately, the goal is to make transport safer, less congested, and more environmentally friendly.”