New Zealand company Ohmio Automotion, which is a subsidiary of Australasian traffic technology company the HMI Group, has signed an agreement to supply 150 of its autonomous shuttles to the Korean company Southwest Coast Enterprise City Development Co Ltd (SolaSeaDo).
Construction and real estate development company SolaSeaDo is in the advanced stages of securing a contract to build a large scale smart city in Korea and will know later this year if it has secured the contract for this project. The scheme will see the construction of a new environmentally friendly and sustainable city with a population of 35,000 people. The new development will be totally ‘green’ with only electric-powered personal vehicles or autonomous shuttle buses allowed within the city, as part of the project’s ambition to halve the number of vehicles per household.
Based on its experience of working with governments, communities and transport agencies on multiple transportation projects, HMI became aware of the potential of autonomous vehicles (AVs) and their supporting layers of infrastructure and systems. Following the release of the first fleet of proof-of-concept vehicles in Christchurch in 2017 and trials across New Zealand and Australia with other partners and technologies, HMI subsequently developed its own self-driving and self-learning AV technology company, Ohmio Automotion.
The company’s Ohmio Lift is a 20-person shuttle that can be extended to carry up to 40 people, and is intended to operate on pre-determined routes without the need for a driver. The shuttle will provide services similar to those of a tram, but with ‘virtual rails’ using a range of electronic systems to guide the vehicle.
“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,” said Dean Zabrieszach, CEO of HMI Technologies. “Of course, we will only know if this is going to happen if SolaSeaDo finalizes the contract for this development. SolaSeado is very confident about that outcome, so we are very excited by this prospect”
Mohammed Hikmet, founder of the HMI Group and Ohmio Automotion, commented, “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. 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. I am very excited by the strong level of interest we have had in both the USA and Asia. I expect this arrangement with SolaSeaDo will be the first of many to come.”