The appearance of self-driving vehicles on UK pavements is moving a step closer to reality thanks to the expertise of a Coventry-based firm.
RDM Group, which employs 39 people, has been announced as the manufacturing partner for the Low Caron Urban Transport Zone (LUTZ) Pathfinder project, which will see electric powered pods used in Milton Keynes next year.
The company was selected by project managers Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) following an open OJEU tender process, beating off competition from five other bids thanks to its track record for advanced vehicle design, niche builds and software development.
It will now work with Oxford University’s Mobile Robotics Group to create the three test vehicles, which will carry up to two passengers and reach a top speed of approximately 7 mph.
David Keen, CEO at RDM Group, said the project showcases the company’s technical capabilities at both home and abroad.
“The LUTZ Pathfinder project represents an opportunity for us to showcase our technical abilities in advanced vehicle design, development and build to both a UK and global audience,” he said.
Mr Keen, whose firm celebrates its 21st anniversary this year, added: “We have invested heavily in attracting the right people with skills in advanced electronics, software development, mobile apps and vehicle engineering and all of these attributes will be brought into play to make sure this ambitious vision becomes reality.”
RDM will undertake the manufacture of the pods at its new £400,000 advanced engineering centre in Coventry and is planning to complete the first vehicle by the end of this year.
This will allow Oxford University robotics experts to install their technology and begin test-track trials in early 2015, before being tested on the pavements of Milton Keynes.
Neil Fulton, programme director at Transport Systems Catapult, said the project can redefine what people perceive to be driving.
“The LUTZ Pathfinder project will redefine how people think of ‘driving’, and therefore fits in perfectly with our mission to promote UK business growth in the field of intelligent mobility.”