Autonomous vehicle trials for Christchurch
LIFT, the autonomous vehicle, will be able to carry up to 20 people and will be used to transport passengers from car parks to the terminal. Stephen Matthews, Ohmio chief executive, is hopeful that the LIFT will be certified to carry passengers on-road inside a year. "Human cost is the biggest cost of transporting people and if we can take that cost out of moving people, we can lower the operating costs," said Matthews. "It's a trade off between the capital cost and the operating cost." The vehicles are designed to operate on predetermined repetitive routes, and their mapping function means that they can learn a route and repeat it over and over. Multiple Ohmio vehicles could also join up to form a convoy, then split up as required to take passengers to different destinations. Ohmio is in discussion with other potential users, such as retirement villages and hospitals, who are also interested in using the vehicle to transport passengers between hospital wings. The body of the LIFT is being made in Auckland and the chassis in Wellington. Christchurch Airport general manager corporate affairs, Michael Singleton, said the second phase of the trial meant the vehicle could be proven and licensed, and was built specifically for New Zealand conditions. "Collaborating with Ohmio means we have a technology partner and producer which is able to take the learnings from the trial to date and then adapt and enhance the vehicle to New Zealand needs." Ohmio is planning to launch several variations later this year.