The first on-road trial of autonomous vehicles in New Zealand will enter a second phase in 2018 with the addition of the first vehicle designed and built locally. The ohmio Lift will be trialled on private roads at Christchurch Airport.
Ohmio Automation chief executive Stephen Matthews said this first build of the self-driving ohmio Lift is a significant milestone for the company. “It is proof of our capability and realisation of our world-class driverless vehicle technology, pioneered in New Zealand,” he said.
“We are very excited to partner with Christchurch Airport. Their vison to realise the future allows us to demonstrate ohmio vehicles successfully operating as a first-mile last-mile strategy in the airport context. We have the vehicle, they have the roads where we can test safely and we look forward to showcasing the ohmio Lift in a world premier event in the next few months.”
The self-drive ohmio vehicles are designed to operate on predetermined repetitive routes. The system created allows vehicles to be deployed quickly, with a mapping capability which means the vehicle can learn its course and improve performance using AI to repeat the charted course over and over. Multiple ohmio vehicles can also platoon, forming a connected convoy, which makes ohmio a scalable solution.
The trial began more than a year ago. Christchurch Airport’s general manager of corporate affairs, Michael Singleton, said the second phase will allow the vehicle to be proven and licenced. “Our joint fully autonomous vehicle trial continues, with the ohmio Lift proving this country is able to design and construct a vehicle made for our conditions.”
“Collaborating with ohmio means we have a technology partner and producer that is able to take the learnings from the trial to date and then adapt and enhance the vehicle to New Zealand needs. The focus of the trial remains on autonomy rather than a particular vehicle, and we look forward to continuing to explore how autonomous shuttles might play a part in our future at our airport.
“Christchurch Airport’s growing reputation as a testbed for innovation, and in particular autonomy, is growing, because we combine the right physical environment for safe testing with understanding of technological advances.”