Work has now started on the Australian Automation and Robotics Precinct (AARP) in Neerabup, Western Australia, which will form, the state government claims, one of the biggest test facilities of its kind in the world.
The 51 ha precinct, around 40 km north of Perth, will be a major hub for testing and research into the latest developments in automation, remote operation and robotic systems.
A broad range of industries including mining and resources, defence, oil and gas, agriculture, space, logistics, construction, advanced manufacturing and the education sector are expected to use AARP.
It will provide suppliers and operators of automation and robotics equipment or systems with access to specialist infrastructure including:
- Common user test beds, with multiple areas and roadways for physical testing;
- A common user facility operation building; and
- Supporting research and development facilities.
The McGowan Government committed A$20 million ($14.5 million) towards the precinct as part of its WA Recovery Plan announced last year with the aim of creating jobs and diversifying the economy.
Development of the facility will generate at least 70 construction jobs as the precinct is built over the next three years, and up to 5,000 ongoing jobs in the fields of robotics, automation and remote operations, according to the government.
The facilities will enable companies and researchers the opportunity to accelerate technology and analytics testing and scaling without interrupting on-site production and activities, it says.
The site has the potential to expand to 94 ha to accommodate future growth and will not be sub-divided – remaining a long-term common user facility asset for Western Australia.
An Industry Advisory Group has also been established, while the AARP will collaborate with university and industry research sectors by offering doctoral top-up scholarships for projects that support the Western AustraLIA economy and the precinct’s objectives.
The precinct will also support the resources industry’s bid to transition to net zero carbon status by providing facilities for the testing of new technologies, it says.
Western Australia Innovation and ICT Minister, Don Punch, said: “This exciting precinct represents a A$20 million investment by the McGowan Government in further enhancing Western Australia’s position as a world leader in the growing fields of robotics and automation, and puts us in the best possible position to meet the opportunities and challenges of the future.
“Western Australia is a recognised world leader in the field of automation for the mining sector, and this new facility will see this same success mirrored across a range of industries.
“This builds on the A$100 million Investment Attraction and New Industries Fund announced in the recent State Budget to support and accelerate a range of emerging industries to diversify our economy and deliver the Western Australia jobs of the future.”