First NZ developed autonomous vehicle goes on trial

Ohmio Automation, a subsidiary of Auckland based intelligent transport systems company HMI Technologies, is to commence testing on private roads at Christchurch Airport of the Ohmio Lift, what it says is the first locally designed and built autonomous vehicle

Ohmio Automation chief executive Stephen Matthews said Ohmio vehicles were 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 artificial intelligence to repeat the charted course over and over,” he said.

“Multiple Ohmio vehicles can also ‘platoon’ forming a connected convoy, which makes Ohmio a scalable solution, responding to demand to operate as an efficient and safe virtual tram.”

HMI announced the formation of Ohmio in September 2017 to design, manufacture and support self-driving vehicles and connected vehicles. It said a range of four Ohmio models was planned for production in the company’s first year, ranging in size from small to large shuttles and light commercial vehicles and using technology developed by HMI.

HMI has been demonstration autonomous vehicles from other manufacturers in New Zealand and Australia for some time.

In January 2017 in partnership with Christchurch International Airport and with the support of the Christchurch City Council HMI launched New Zealand’s first fully driverless vehicle trial using a Navya Arma electric powered autonomous shuttle. It has staged three trials in Melbourne and one in NSW.

Christchurch Airport general manager corporate affairs, Michael Singleton, said introduction of the Ohmio Lift marked the second phase of a trial that began more than a year ago with the Navya Arma and would allow the New Zealand vehicle to be proven and licenced.

“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,” he said.

"Christchurch Airport’s growing reputation as a test bed for innovation, and in particular autonomy, is growing, because we combine the right physical environment for safe testing with understanding of technological advances.”

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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