On June 21, 2017, the Honorable Annastacia Palaszczuk, premier of Queensland, Australia, visited the Biggest Little City in the World and was among those witnessing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate research collaboration between the University of Nevada, Reno and the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane. The signing event took place at The Innevation Center University of Nevada, Reno in downtown Reno and was attended by representatives of Trade & Investment Queensland and the Nevada Governor's Office for Economic Development.
The Memorandum of Understanding establishes a collaborative relationship to facilitate research and the development of opportunities for new technologies, autonomous vehicles, air quality, exhaust emissions and hydrologic sciences. Furthermore, the Memorandum solidifies the commitment to explore research, development, business and trade opportunities of both universities, while encouraging the development of joint projects in research areas of robotics, road safety and regulatory framework, academic activities, staff exchanges and professional development.
"This will be a substantive collaboration, and our faculty and students will benefit from the exchange of academic opportunities, international perspectives and world-class research experience," said Mridul Gautam, University Vice President for Research and Innovation, who signed the MOU along with QUT Vice-Chancellor Arun Sharma.
In 2016, University representatives joined Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and the Governor's Office for Economic Development on a trade mission to Australia. The visit prompted discussions that ultimately led to the Memorandum of Understanding.
For the Queensland Government, the collaboration is meant to advance areas of strategic focus such as the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads' work with Queensland University of Technology on autonomous vehicles.
"Through Governor-led international trade missions, GOED seeks to provide an opportunity for our educational institutions to expand their global partnerships and enhance their portfolios. It's great to see that UNR and QUT were able to reach an initial agreement as a result of the mission. I'm certain that this agreement marks the beginning of what will be a long and productive partnership," stated Kristopher Sanchez, GOED's Director of Trade.
Research regarding autonomous vehicles is of particular interest to both universities. With the Tesla Gigafactory located in Reno's backyard and with the University's expertise in robotics, artificial intelligence, vision systems and synchronized transportation, the University is well positioned to contribute to the collaboration.
Earlier this year the University launched Intelligent Mobility, an ambitious effort to explore solutions for safe, clean and efficient transportation, and to establish the greater Reno-Sparks-Carson City area as a Living Lab for research and testing. Intelligent Mobility and the creation of the Living Lab are supported by a University-led coalition of partners that includes the Governor's Office for Economic Development; Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County; electric-bus manufacturer Proterra; the cities of Reno, Sparks and Carson City; Nevada Department of Transportation; Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles; Nevada Automotive Test Center; and the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems IVI in Germany, part of Europe's largest application-oriented research organization.