Fortescue joins self-driving race

Google and Tesla have new competition as Fortescue Metal Group announced it will be launching an autonomous research centre in Karratha.

In partnership with the City of Karratha the Fortescue Future of Mobility Centre will look to expand on its existing automation technology.

FMG said the centre will look at all aspects of self driving technology to spot where opportunities lie and will present an opportunity to work closely with the community to bring about mutual benefits.

Fortescue CEO Elizabeth Gaines said FMG was already at the forefront of this technology with its autonomous truck fleet already travelling 26 million kilometres since its launch back in 2012.

“The emergence of autonomy is one aspect in which our world is changing rapidly, and we intend to be part of the opportunities that it will represent,” Ms Gaines said.

“By establishing the centre we will have the ability to develop, test and trial this technology, further contributing to Western Australia’s position as a world leading autonomous hub.”

‘Kip’ the self driving bus at Curtin. Photography: Curtin University.

City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said he was excited to see the project start.

“I am delighted that of all the potential locations around Australia, Fortescue has selected Karratha as its base to develop this exciting and innovative new technology,” he said.

“While the City will continue to be the hub of resources and energy projects for the nation, we are now entering an exciting new phase of economic development and diversification.”

The centre’s first program will test an autonomous bus similar to the one operated by Curtin on its campus.

The University of Technology Sydney will be the leading research provider.