Coventry firm trials driverless vehicles Down Under

Coventry firm trials driverless vehicles Down Under

A leading Coventry manufacturer is helping pioneer driverless pod technology in Australia after it began trials on a new ‘last mile’ transport solution.

Aurrigo, the autonomous vehicle division of RDM Group, is testing its Pod Zero on a network of mapped courses at the Tonsley Innovation District in South Australia to explore a possible solution to carrying and delivering cargo around the technology precinct.

Manufacturing work on a further two pods is being carried out at the firm’s advanced engineering centre in the UK and these will be sent over by March next year as the trials pick up pace.

Adorned in the red and white colours of South Australia, the Pod Zero has an operating speed of up to 24km/h, multiple battery options up to eight hours or 80 kilometres and, if not carrying cargo, can be fitted out to seat four people.

They all operate autonomously through multiple sensor technologies, including stereo cameras, LiDARS (laser-based light detection and ranging sensors), odometry and ultrasonics.

Roger van der Lee, Aurrigo’s autonomous programmes director for Australia and Asia Pacific, said: “Australia is well placed in the global race to introduce driverless vehicles to the road network and our pods offer the opportunity for the public to experience this transport technology in a way that delivers real benefit while seamlessly integrating into our daily lives.”

“We showcased our capabilities to the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI) back in 2016 and, from there, have been working with them to establish our Adelaide operation and to look at setting-up trials in Australia.”

“The initiative at Tonsley Innovation District is the direct result of funding from the South Australian Government’s $10m Future Mobility Lab Fund, supporting the development of driverless car technologies.

“We’re proud to be involved in one of the first projects and delighted to see UK technology being used over 10,000 miles away.”

Since opening its sales and technical office in Adelaide last year, Aurrigo has seen significant attention, and recently completed a high-profile media event where it offered 350 delegates at the 2nd International Driverless Vehicle Summit a demonstration ride across the Torrens pedestrian bridge to the Adelaide Oval.

The firm’s technology experts have also been invited to talk at a number of industry events on the topic of autonomous vehicles, with the most recent one seeing Dr Richard Fairchild speaking at The Ageing Well Revolution conference.

Miles Garner, sales and marketing director, concluded: “What we are doing is capturing the imagination of the rest of the world.

“Australia was a natural first step in our international expansion and we are really pleased with how things have gone so far and we are still looking at investing in our own assembly facility over there.

“2018 will definitely see us stretch our reach even further, with the possibility of looking at a location in Canada to complement our Houston office.”

Aurrigo, which was part of Coventry’s successful bid for UK City of Culture 2021, designs and develops the driverless vehicles from the ground up, including the autonomous control systems and offers a full “in the field” operating service.