Auckland-based ITS and traffic management systems developer HMI Technologies has launched a new subsidiary, Ohmio Automotion, which intends to start production of self-driving vehicles in New Zealand.
At its launch, the new company showcased three shuttle buses that feature self-driving vehicle technology developed by HMI, which is already trialing automated driving technology in Australia and New Zealand.
Fully operational prototypes of the electric Ohmio Hop shuttles carried passengers on a circuit around Christchurch. Ohmio claims to be one of the first companies whose shuttles can form a connected convoy, or ‘platoon’, that can move extremely efficiently and safely together in formation, providing a self-driving and scalable transport system.
In another advancement from similar shuttles already on the market, Ohmio vehicles include self-mapping artificial intelligence, so when they have completed their route once, they are able to repeat the self-driven journey, allowing them to be quickly deployed and relocated as required.
A range of four Ohmio models is planned for production before 2019, and the vehicles will range in size from small to large shuttles and freight pods, customizable to suit the end-user. All models will be built around the innovative technology developed by parent company HMI, which has been developing and manufacturing ITS solutions for 15 years, with customers including governments and transport agencies.
The company identified that the rapid advancement of sensors, cameras, data analytics and wireless communications created a convergence with the transformative technology of autonomous vehicles. HMI’s understanding of legislation, and experience with transport agencies, means they intend to work with customers to ensure the vehicles can be on public roads in the very near future.
“Being in New Zealand offers us a formidable advantage,” explained Mohammed Hikmet, founder of HMI. “The testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles elsewhere is slowed down by legislation or requires special permits. Here in New Zealand, the government already allows for testing of driverless vehicles. That gives Ohmio an advantage as we scale up and develop our technology, especially as we understand regulations here and in Australia.”
HMI’s CEO, Stephen Matthews, added, “The Ohmio Hop vehicles are fully-electric and designed to be a last-mile solution, carrying people and their luggage short distances, providing connection to or from transport hubs or mass transit options. This development will mean that people might no longer need to rely on their private vehicles, and that makes a whole community better off, by reducing congestion, pollution, and traffic accidents.”
To view a video of the Ohmio shuttle, click here.