A Coventry manufacturing specialist is celebrating after winning one of the automotive sector’s most prestigious honours.
RDM Group, which employs 43 people at its Bilton Road Industrial Estate, has seen its involvement in the groundbreaking LUTZ pod help the project secure the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Award for ‘Automotive Innovation’.
The company – along with partners Transport Systems Catapult, Oxford’s Mobile Robotics Group (MRG) and Milton Keynes Council – impressed judges with its pioneering work to deliver the UK’s first driverless vehicles.
Seating two people, the electric powered pods are capable of travelling 40 miles at a speed of up to 15 miles and are set to be trialed on UK pavements in 2016.
David Keene, Chief Executive of RDM Group, commented: “This is a massive achievement for the LUTZ project and underlines how our collaborative approach to a new transport solution is capturing the imagination both at home and overseas.
“We are a crucial partner in the project and there is no doubt that winning a SMMT award is one of the biggest moments in our history. It underlines the strengths of a SME and what we can bring to a collective, most notably specialist expertise, agility, creativity and innovation.”
He continued: “This accolade is something we can definitely use in our marketing activities in a bid to attract even more new opportunities.”
The SMMT Award for Automotive Innovation demonstrates the wealth of design and engineering talent in the UK automotive sector by rewarding the most groundbreaking concepts each year.
Now in its sixth year, the accolade’s previous winners include Torotrak Group, Gordon Murray Design, Jaguar Land Rover, Optare and Ford.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, added his support: “The quality of entries was extremely high and judging was tough, but we were all agreed that the Transport Systems Catapult should be recognised for its work in helping put Britain at the forefront of connected and driverless vehicle development.
“Technologies such as these represent a huge area of growth for the UK’s automotive industry, with the potential to deliver 300,000 new jobs within the next 15 years. This trial is not only an innovation in itself, but will also provide invaluable data, experience and learning for the whole sector.”
The first LUTZ Pathfinder pod is currently at Oxford MRG being fitted with its autonomous control system. The Milton Keynes trials are due to start in early 2016 – at first in manual mode, before being switched to automated driving. A trained human operator will remain in each pod for the duration of the trial, ready to take control of the vehicle if necessary.
Steve Yianni, Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) CEO, concluded: “The TSC only began its operations in 2013, so to have already won such a prestigious national innovation award is a great tribute to the ground-breaking work that our people are carrying out together with our partners in the field of Intelligent Mobility.”