Autonomous pods: From Coventry to Las Vegas

Posted on 8 Jan 2019 by The Manufacturer

Aurrigo, a UK-based autonomous vehicles manufacturer, has been working with US firms to equip three of its ‘Pod Zeros’ with the latest AI technology. The driverless pods can seat up to four people, travel at 15 mph and cover up to 60 miles on one charge.

Aurrigo claim the pods are zero carbon, safer, reduce operators labour costs and require no dedicated labour infrastructure - image courtesy of CES.
Aurrigo claims autonomous pods are zero carbon, safer, reduce operators’ labour costs and require no dedicated route infrastructure – image courtesy of Aurrigo.

They say autonomous pods will transform future transport systems, making it easier to transport people and cargo efficiently around destinations within cities and towns.

Today in Las Vegas, the Coventry technology specialist Aurrigo and its US partners will exhibit these self-driving pods at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Aurrigo, which employs over 80 people at its West Midlands engineering centre and three technical/sales offices in Australia, Canada and the US, has been working with US firms Comet Mobility and Via to equip three ‘Pod Zeros’ which can deliver smart, on-demand, automated solutions and are zero carbon.

Delegates at the conference will get the opportunity to ride the British-built pods for a six to eight-minute period. There will be three points of interest – the UK, New York and Las Vegas – and the riders will be asked to choose which location they want to go to first, allowing Pod Zero to make a real-time voice-activated decision about where to go, leveraging on-demand ridesharing technology developed by Via.

Delegates will be able to ask the pods questions about the weather, destinations and the partners behind the project. The vehicles can even tell a joke or two!

The rides will take place at the Comet Mobility Experience, which is being part-funded by the UK’s Department for International Trade, Meridian and the Advanced Propulsion Centre, will be unveiled at the CES.

Miles Garner, Aurrigo’s Sales and Marketing Director says autonomous pods will benefit tourists, corporate users, shopping centres and students. – image courtesy of Aurrigo.

Miles Garner, Sales and Marketing Director for Aurrigo, the autonomous vehicle division of RDM Group, said the technology will particularly benefit tourists, corporate users, and shopping centres promoting the latest offers. It may also benefit students wanting to navigate certain university campuses.

He said: “This is the first time our autonomous pods have been equipped with the latest AI technology, which has been designed to learn more with less data.”

“The idea behind the project is to highlight how UK and US firms can collaborate to create a smart, automated and zero carbon ‘last mile mobility’ solution. Delegates will see how self-driving pods can provide a practical, safe and enjoyable experience that is truly immersive and educational.

Three Pod Zeros have been built for use at the show. One of them will carry the government’s ‘GREAT’ Britain Campaign branding, while the other two will carry partner liveries.

On its website, Aurrigo claim the pods have numerous benefits. They say it can reduce labour costs for operators; it’s carbon neutral; it’s safer for passengers and pedestrians, and does not require a dedicated route infrastructure. The pods can also be used to provide advertising opportunities with external graphics and internal display screens.

Last year, Aurrigo lead the world’s first ever multi-connected and autonomous vehicle demonstration in Coventry and Milton Keynes. The demo was part of the UK Autodrive project, which was created with the aim of establishing the UK as a global hub for the development of autonomous vehicle technology.

Reporting by Harry Wise