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UK autonomous vehicle designer RDM Group plans to trial its ‘Pod Zero’ vehicles in South Australia, and to establish a base at Adelaide’s Tonsley Innovation District.
RDM Group specialises in small autonomous and guided vehicles for factory and warehouse logistics. The vehicles can also be used in airports, shopping centres, university campuses, smart cities and other applications.
According to Adelaide-based autonomous programme director, Roger van der Lee, the company is exploring trial opportunities with Flinders University and a range of other organisations interested in ‘first and last mile’ transport and logistics solutions.
“We feel the opportunity deserves a local presence and we are delighted to have taken a technical office at Flinders University, within the world class Tonsley Innovation District,” said RDM Group CEO David Keene.
“This will give us the base to develop an Australian supply chain and to explore new opportunities, with the longer-term plan to create a bespoke assembly facility in Adelaide that will supply vehicles direct to customers across the Asia-Pacific region.”
RDM hopes to build hundreds of autonomous pods each year, according to Keene.
Currently, the company intends to employ a Flinders University PhD student to assist with the development of new technologies for autonomous vehicles, including efficient air conditioning, solar nanotechnology and integration of the pods into the public transport network.
Pod Zero has two variants – a four-seater and an eight-seater. Features include an operating speed up to 24km/h, battery life up to eight hours or 80km, wheelchair accessibility and temperature control. The pods can also be supervised externally, and there is pod-to-pod communication to allows logistics solutions for warehouses, airports and other similar locations.
The vehicles operate autonomously through the use of stereo cameras, LiDAR, odometry, and ultrasonics.