Ohmio Automotion to produce self-driving vehicles in New Zealand

In Uncategorized4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 15, 2017

At its Christchurch launch, Ohmio Automotion announced plans to start production of self-driving vehicles – including freight pods – in New Zealand. The company showcased three shuttle buses featuring self-driving vehicle technology developed by Auckland-based HMI Technologies, who are already trialling self-driving technology in Australia and New Zealand.

Fully operational prototypes of the electric Ohmio Hop shuttles carried passengers 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 a further 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. This means the vehicles can be quickly deployed and relocated as required.

A range of four Ohmio models is planned for production before 2019, ranging in size from small to large shuttles and freight pods, all customisable to suit the customer. All models will be built around technology developed by parent company HMI Technologies, a company that specialises in Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).

HMI has been developing and manufacturing ITS solutions for 15 years and 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 enables them to work with customers to ensure the vehicles will be on public roads in the 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 already has three autonomous vehicle trials underway, at Christchurch International Airport, Olympic Park in Sydney, and La Trobe University, Melbourne, and say the trials have generated huge interest, proven demand and shown a positive public response for the new technology. Ohmio will initially target commercial campuses, airports, city centre precincts, amusement parks or retirement villages.

HMI‘s CEO Stephen Matthews says the Ohmio Hop vehicles are fully electric and designed to be a last mile solution, providing the last mile connection to or from transport hubs or mass transit options.