Shannon set to become top European testing ground for driverless vehicles

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Deputy Joe Carey outside the Jaguar Land Rover base in Shannon. Photo: Arthur Ellis

A €4,723,197 allocation from the Regional Enterprise Development Fund will finance the construction of a 13 kilometre  private road test facility for driverless vehicles on the Shannon Free Zone.

Confirming details of the development, Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey said that the Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI) project will deliver a state-of-the art vehicle test facility to provide technology companies and researchers with the ability to assess and enhance their innovations.

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The private road network will be retrofitted with interconnected sensing and telecommunication technologies that will be operated by a dedicated control centre.

Deputy Carey said that the funding would enable the Shannon Free Zone to become one of the leading research centres for  Autonomous Connected Electric Shared Vehicles (ACES) not just in Ireland but also in the European Union.

The facility will be made available for rental by some of the leading international companies in the ACES sector including Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Cisco, AMAX Engineering, Taoglas, Mergon International, General Motors, Analog Devices, Valeo, SGS, PiPiper, Transpoco, Arralis and Arup.

“The target users of the Shannon test centre include national and international automotive and technology providers that are interested in testing their innovations in real-world settings before the product release phase,” Deputy Carey explained.

“The Future Mobility Campus was established to deliver a dedicated facility for stimulating research, development and innovation in partnership with Ireland’s leading automotive and technology organisations with support from local authorities and state agencies.

“The finance for this important project is coming from the Regional Enterprise Development Fund which is intended for projects that support job creation and I am delighted to see Shannon and Clare benefitting in this way.

“This investment underlines the Government’s commitment to enhancing the Shannon Free Zone as the region’s prime asset for future job creation.

“Apart from the ongoing investment in buildings and infrastructure, there is a welcome revival of Shannon’s reputation as a centre for enterprise and innovation.

“Technologies such as those that will avail of the FMCI facility will provide employment for the next generation of technicians, researchers and engineers.

“The FMCI project was selected through a rigorous multi-stage evaluation process managed by Enterprise Ireland. It was based on criteria which included: impacts and value for money; collaboration and participation; viability and sustainability; building regional strengths; and significance for innovation.”

“The Regional Enterprise Development Fund is about supporting every region to build on its strengths and create sustainable jobs. Collaboration is at its core – among the public and private sectors, within and across regions and this is what’s happening in Shannon,” Deputy Carey concluded.