Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) has secured more than $780,000 in grants for three research projects to help modernise Australia’s automotive industry.

Grants are part of the $5m funding for ten research projects awarded to seven universities and more than 100 postgraduate engineers across the country.

The national government-funded Automotive Engineering Graduate Programme supports PhD students working on research projects with a car industry partner, which will enable students to gain relevant industry training.

These three projects at RMIT will concentrate on developing modern technology around autonomous vehicles and smart monitoring systems.

The first project is on the improvement of navigation systems for autonomous vehicles. With the support of industry partner Advanced Navigation, RMIT researchers will look at the use of high-precision optical gyroscopes, similar to those used to create Google maps. These will then be integrated onto photonic microchips, which are small and cheap, making them suitable for use in self-driving vehicles.

“The first project is on the improvement of navigation systems for autonomous vehicles.”

For the second project, RMIT researchers will partner with Forum 8 AU to estimate the intended and unintended effects of new autonomous vehicle technology. Equipped with new computer tool, researchers will be able to calculate the issues likely to be faced on road safety, cybersecurity and privacy, shared mobility, ethical issues and fuel consumption.

Four PhD scholarships will be available for the third project, which will probe into key areas where wireless technologies such as smartphones can impact user experience and wellbeing of both automobile occupants and other road users.

Under this project, new techniques will be explored to allow drivers to use their smartphones to boost their driving experience.

RMIT’s School of Engineering research development lead and discipline leader for manufacturing and mechatronics Dr Reza Hoseinnezhad said the grant success reinforced the institution’s strength in mechanical and automotive engineering research.