Some of the world’s best golfers competing in the Wales Open will be among the first professional sportspeople ever to be transported in an autonomous shuttle.
Coventry-based Aurrigo is behind the innovation and will be running a driverless transport service from the famous Twenty Ten Club House to the first tee.
The shuttle, which can normally carry up to 12 people, has been redesigned specifically for the tournament to follow all Covid-19 rules, with three twin bench seats able to carry a golfer and their caddie two-metres apart.
A touchless sanitiser unit is available as you enter the vehicle and masks/gloves will be available for additional protection.
Lidars*, cameras and inertial** navigation technology guide the vehicle throughout its journey and a partnership with Vodafone provides the 4G real-time data connectivity via its cellular communications network.
The data can then be viewed by the Aurrigo fleet management system to remotely monitor and track the vehicles.
CEO of Aurrigo, David Keene commented: “We have been working extremely closely with the European Tour and the players to redesign the inside of the shuttle to ensure that it is fully Covid-19 secure, while our new technology partnership with Vodafone will provide vital connectivity.”
He continued: “Our engineering team will be based at the Celtic Manor Resort to oversee the shuttle’s operations, which will be running for the duration of the ISPS Handa Wales Open. In total, we expect to make more than 100 driverless journeys.”
Aurrigo, which operates from its Advanced Centre of Engineering in Coventry, has been developing the shuttle for the past two years since it was appointed to be part of the government’s CCAV Smart Cambridge’s T-CABS project to deliver the UK’s first autonomous bus route.
(L to R) Miles Garner (Aurrigo) with professional golfer Ross Fisher
The shuttle is constructed from high strength composite materials to create a lightweight, efficient vehicle structure offering a range of up to 124 miles on a single charge using a 96V lithium power pack coupled with a 22KW electric motor.
David continued: ““We believe it is the only EV shuttle of its kind that can be switched between operating autonomously or driven by an operator using a conventional steering wheel and pedals.
“This versatility has been a huge hit with a raft of global clients registering their interest for deploying them in leisure, retail, airports and industrial space.”
Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said: “Self-driving vehicle technology is crucial for the transport revolution happening today in the UK, which is why milestones such as this are so important – helping to make everyday journeys greener, safer, more flexible and more reliable.”
* Lidar is a method for measuring distances (ranging) by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor. Differences in laser return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital 3D representations of a target.
** An inertial navigation system is a navigation device that uses a computer, motion sensors and rotation sensors to continuously calculate by dead reckoning the position, the orientation, and the velocity of a moving object without the need for external references.
*All images courtesy of Aurrigo