Ohmio Automotion has launched in Christchurch with an announcement that they intend to start production of self-driving vehicles in New Zealand.
The company showcased three shuttle buses which feature self-driving vehicle technology developed by Auckland-based HMI Technologies, who is already trialling self-driving technology in Australia and New Zealand.
Fully operational prototypes of the electric Ohmio Hop shuttles carried passengers including school children as they performed on a circuit around the Christchurch Art Gallery. Ohmio claims to be one of the first companies whose shuttles can form a connected convoy. A connected convoy can move extremely efficiently and safely together in formation which makes the Ohmio vehicles the world’s first self-driving and scalable transport solution.
In another advancement from similar shuttles already on the market, Ohmio vehicles include self-mapping artificial intelligence. Once they have completed their route once, they are able to self-drive the route over and over. The importance of this ability is that the vehicles can be quickly deployed and relocated as required.
A range of four Ohmio models is planned for production before 2019, the vehicles will range in size from small to large shuttles and freight pods and vehicles will be customisable to suit their customer. All models will be built around the innovative technology developed by parent company HMI Technologies, a technology company that specialises in Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).
HMI has been developing and manufacturing ITS solutions for 15 years, their customers include governments and transport agencies. Their technology includes electronic signs, sensors and software for monitoring transport to aid management of urban and rural transport environments, making transport safer and more efficient.
HMI identified that the rapid advancement of sensors, cameras, data analytics and wireless communications created a convergence with transformative technology of autonomous vehicles.
HMI’s understanding of legislation and experience with transport agencies means they intend to work with customers to ensure the vehicles can be on public roads in the very near future.
Being in New Zealand offers the new company a formidable advantage, explains Mohammed Hikmet, founder of HMI Technologies.
“The testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles elsewhere is slowed down by legislation or requires special permits. Here in New Zealand, the government already allows for testing of driverless vehicles. That gives Ohmio an advantage as we scale up and develop our technology, especially as we understand regulations here and in Australia.”
“New Zealand has a reputation for innovation and that has also helped us recruit international expertise.”
HMI has three autonomous vehicle trials already underway, at Christchurch International Airport, at Olympic Park in Sydney with state authority Transport for New South Wales, and La Trobe University, Melbourne. Ohmio is initially targeting commercial campuses, airports, city centre precincts, amusement parks or retirement villages. Their three trials have generated huge interest, proven demand and shown hugely positive public response for this new technology. As HMI’s CEO Stephen Matthews explains.
“The Ohmio Hop vehicles are fully electric and designed to be a last mile solution, carrying people and their luggage short distances, providing the last mile connection to or from transport hubs or mass transit options.”
This development will mean that people might no longer need to rely on their private vehicles, and that makes a whole community better off, by reducing congestion, pollution, and of course the cost and grief associated with traffic accidents and it is those benefits which motivated us to create Ohmio.”