New Zealand company Ohmio, which develops and builds Level 4 autonomous shuttles, has signed an agreement with Korean company Southwest Coast Enterprise City Development Co (SolaSeaDo) to supply 150 Lift vehicles to its ground-up smart city project.
The Ohmio Lift is a 20-person shuttle that can be extended by attaching a second unit to carry up to 40 people. It is designed to operate on pre-determined routes without the need for a driver. As such it is similar to a tram, but because the rails are virtual, it can easily be deployed on different or modified routes.
SolaSeaDo is a city that is to be built from the ground-up on the west coast of South Korea. The city will be designed as a smart city from the start, with the autonomous shuttles to be deployed on purpose-built roads.
The Lift vehicle is guided by lidar and a range of electronic systems to provide low-speed first- and last-mile transportation between key destinations from hubs such as railway and bus stations to community centres.
Mohammed Hikmet, the founder of HMI Group and its subsidiary Ohmio Automotion, said, “This is a significant development for Ohmio and a major vote of confidence in what we have developed. This commitment to source our vehicles for this Korean development is a great demonstration of what we can do in New Zealand.”
Dean Zabrieszach, CEO of HMI Technologies, said, “I am not aware of any other commitment to deploy as many vehicles as this one. We think this is the largest single deployment of autonomous shuttles in the world. Of course, we will only know if this is going to happen if SolaSeaDo finalises the contract for this development. SolaSeado is very confident in that outcome, so we are very excited by this prospect.”
Ohmio has been developed by HMI in Pakuranga, Auckland, and launched the first demonstration in Christchurch last September, using prototype vehicles to showcase the driverless automated shuttle and robotic technologies that underpin them.
“These first vehicles were to show we had developed the know-how to build an autonomous vehicle. Since then, we have been developing the Ohmio Lift, a vehicle that we expect will be used in a range of environments such as airports, business parks and central city areas. We were proud to have made our first sale to Christchurch International Airport in March,” Hikmet added.