Wodonga could become Australia's leading technological hub of the future as a result of an ambition $100 million project by a local training institute.
Wodonga TAFE plans to develop a 100-hectare state-of-the-art centre at Logic Park designed to be at the forefront of testing and training in heavy vehicle robotics and autonomous systems.
The facility will be the only of its kind in the country, putting Albury-Wodonga on the frontline of Australian innovation.
Should the $100 million Heavy Vehicle Training Program garner the necessary funding, it would be a testing site for self-driving cars, firetrucks and even self-moving witches hats or other yet-to-be-invented implements.
Wodonga TAFE's chief innovation officer Brendan Kellaway said as well as ensuring the region leads the country in training and innovation, the program will create 100 permanent on-site jobs within four years, in addition to the many created during construction.
Dr Kellaway said the project was expected to generate more than $70 million in gross regional product.
"There's nothing in the country that allows for the proving, experimentation and testing of robotics and autonomous systems involved with heavy vehicles," he said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
"I'm talking about autonomous braking technology, artificial intelligence considering how to avoid a collision, or indeed what to collide with if it must.
"By providing the full gamut of intersections, road conditions and gradients, low speed vehicle testing apparatus, a Close Circuit TV [system] fully integrated with telemetric recording, we are essentially creating a giant heavy vehicles robotics and autonomous systems laboratory that can also be used as the best training facility in the world."
Self-driving cars would transform for everyday life, but also allow emergency services to fight fires in remote areas without putting lives at risk.
"The public won't allow this technology on the road until they're satisfied it's been proven time and time again," Dr Kellaway said.
And that's where the 100-hectare training ground comes into play.
The testing facility has been designed to replicate a myriad of road and off-road conditions.
The site will also allow for cyber testing to ensure the autonomous systems cannot be overridden by external forces.
The overarching program has three core parts; building the 100 hectare (247 acre) infrastructure, developing a "TAFE of the future" with leading technical trades, and creating a future workforce by building pathways between high schools, TAFE and industry.
Dr Kellaway said the Institute wants to create STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) initiatives in Border schools and sponsor students to take a interest in the technical trades of robotics, mechatronics, autonomous systems, remote piloting and advanced manufacturing.
He said those are the five key "technical trades of the future" which industry is "hungry for, because they need their workforce to have these skills."
Currently Wodonga TAFE owns 40 hectares of land at Logic which is home to a off-road four-wheel-drive park used to provide lighter vehicle training to various groups included the Country Fire Authority and the Australian Defence Force.
The Institute hopes to obtain 60 hectares of council owned land for the development, and the bulk of funding required through the Albury-Wodonga Regional Deal.
"Obviously we're not privy to where we sit there or the budget they have but what we can say is our program directly fits within the scope and the goals of the Albury Wodonga Regional Deal," he said.
"This is a game changer for the region, this will give our region the economic resilience, the economic diversity and the creation of jobs that we desperately need..."
Once the funding lands, works should be able to start on re-developing the current facility right away.
"I just think this is an exciting opportunity for our region," Dr Kellaway said.
"It's an exciting opportunity for our kids... it will be exciting for high school and TAFE students to know that they will be armed and trained to enter into technical trades - the best technical trades in the world - and I think it's exciting for our local industries, who employ much of our local community, to know that their local training institution is thinking about building their future workforce."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.