In announcing the "partnership" with Navya, South Australian premier Jay Weatherill said: "Establishing a driverless car vehicle operation here in South Australia is the perfect bridge connecting our past in traditional vehicle manufacturing and our future in advanced manufacturing in a clean, carbon neutral environment."
The premier also noted the state's focus on renewable energy and carbon neutrality, as well as its keen interest in autonomous vehicles, were key attractions for Navya. In March 2016, South Australia became the first Australian state to permit driverless car trials on public roads.
The company's new South Australian plant will be Navya's third manufacturing facility, after factories in Lyon, France and Detroit, Michigan.
Navya is currently producing the Arma shuttle bus. Launched in 2015, the Arma is a fully electric bus with seating for up to 15 people. Examples of the Arma are already roaming around Perth, operated by the RAC WA.
Fitted with LIDAR, multiple cameras, GPS and other tracking mechanisms, the Arma is said to be the first commercially available level five fully autonomous vehicle.
The Arma is primarily designed for first and last mile transport within large private or public spaces, such as amusement parks, industrial facilities, airports, hospitals and resort complexes. Depending on local legislation, the Arma can also be used in urban environments, such as dense urban centres.
Trials of the Navya Arma are currently taking place at Auckland airport, Paris' La Defense business district, and the main campus of the University of Michigan.
The company says it has been working on autonomous vehicle technology for 10 years. It is currently headed by Christophe Sapet, part-time rally driver, and co-founder of both Infogrames, a video game publisher, and Infonie, one of France's internet service providers.
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