Tánaiste Leo Varadkar officially opened Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI) in Shannon, Co Clare, on Friday.
It is Ireland’s first full-scale development centre and test-bed for mobility technologies. Based in Shannon, the facility focuses on technology research and development spanning ground and air uses.
Investment of around €5.5 million has been made in the commercial campus which aims to stimulate international investment and job creation, as well as "consolidating Ireland’s reputation for leadership in connected, automated, electrified and shared mobility solutions".
Projects involving unmanned drones, electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL), Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), autonomous driving, micro-mobility, smart cities, and V2X vehicle communication systems are accommodated.
Mr Varadkar said: “It’s great to be in Shannon today to open Future Mobility Campus Ireland and see first-hand the really exciting projects being worked on.
“We want Ireland to be at the cutting-edge of new technologies, and that means we must continually invest in research, testing new ideas, seeing what works and how it can be improved. Future mobility is a particularly important and interesting area, given our need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, while at the same time making our cities more liveable. This is a particular challenge given our population is rising."
He added: “I’m glad we’ve been able to provide over €5.5m to the development of this campus, including €185,000 in additional funding, announced just yesterday, under the Regional Enterprise Innovation Scoping Scheme.
“The very best of luck to the Future Mobility Campus Ireland team and their partners; I look forward to seeing what’s in store.”
The facility supports a range of parties including large and small-scale enterprise, from individual researchers to multinational corporations, start-ups and Government entities.
Partners consist of companies such as Jaguar, Land Rover, Shannon Group, Cisco, Valeo, Seagate, Red Hat, Taoglas, Mergon, Exida, Analog Devices, General Motors, Pipiper, Collins Aerospace and Avtrain.
'Transformative' transport solutions can be conceived, developed, trialled and deployed in Shannon for applications across Ireland, Europe and the wider world, according to Russell Vickers, CEO of Future Mobility Campus Ireland.
“Our unique facility in Shannon is facilitating safe, cost-effective and sustainable transport of freight and people now and into the future. What we and our clients do here contributes to socio-economic development and technological advancement that has extensive business, public service and societal applications."
In June, a European consortium coordinated by FMCI was approved and funded by the EU to develop a ‘Digital Sky Demonstrator’ for aerial Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) systems.
The "ground-breaking new research was a major vote of confidence in Ireland’s resourcing of advanced air mobility development, and in the industry operators and expertise present locally," Mr Vickers said.
"The UTM research project will also support modernisation of air traffic management in Europe, building an end-to-end ecosystem that supports safe operation of unmanned flights, to help both conventional and unmanned aircraft safely integrate operations."
FMCI is the first complete development centre and full-scale test bed in Ireland, based in the Shannon Freezone and operating across Europe.
The facility focuses on "comprehensive mobility technologies that span both ground (autonomous driving, micro-mobility, smart cities, V2X communications) and air (unmanned drones, eVTOL, AAM, UTM) uses".