EU support for autonomous shuttle in Limburg
Flemish Minister of Economy and Innovation, Hilde Crevits (Cd&V), has decided to attribute 7,3 million euros from the European Fund for Regional Development (Europees Fonds voor Regionale Ontwikkeling, EFRO), to three Flemish projects.
The major part of the budget – 5,2 million euros – goes to a campus for the manufacturing economy in Genk, estimated at a total of 13 million euros. Other partners involved are the city of Genk, LRM, POM Limburg, KU Leuven, Flanders Make, and Sirris.
The project contains a lab where processes for digitizing and robotizing will be developed and tested. “Most incubators are working on services, but this one will mainly focus on production and the development of new products,” explains Wim Dries, Mayor of Genk. “The campus will be located on the Thor site in Waterschei, next to the main building. In April, we selected the architect; now, we’re looking for interested parties.”
A second project is Bioville. The incubator for companies working on life sciences will receive money for the construction of the third wing in Diepenbeek. Construction works have even started yet. Today, almost 30 companies are involved, and several researchers of the University of Hasselt. Europe invests 1,3 million euros in Bioville.
The third project is Terhils, the former coal mine site of Eisden (Maasmechelen), which is transformed into a recreation and holiday park. Here, the budget will be used to install a test track for self-riding vehicles. Since the site is no public ground, there is no customary traffic regulation, so it’s an ideal site for a test track.
The project, in which also public transport company De Lijn, LRM, and Flanders Make participate, aims at more than just an uncrewed shuttle to transport visitors. The Terhills project is estimated at 4 million euros: Europe will invest 789 000 euros; Flanders provides 837 000 euros.
With these investments, Limburg will be able to become a test track for smart and autonomous vehicles,” says Minister of Mobility, Lydia Peeters (Open Vld). “These kinds of developments offer an opportunity to create safer and more fluent traffic.”