Auckland-based company HMI Technologies’s self-driving subsidiary- Ohmio is set to deploy its first shuttles at Christchurch Airport later this year. HMI Technologies began moving into self-driving vehicles in late 2016 when its chairman and co-founder, Mohammed Hikmet, realized autonomous vehicles were the way to go. In January 2017, trials were conducted at the Christchurch Airport using three Navya Arma shuttles that HMI had bought.
Electrically powered and at level 4 autonomy, the shuttles operate using self-mapping artificial intelligence. This means that once you drive the shuttle on a specific route, the system will record the coordinates and speed and embed that into the control of the device. The shuttle can then replicate that journey as many times as you want with as many different routes loaded on as you want. They can also be programmed to operate as a connected convoy, meaning multiple vehicles can be linked up to travel as a collective unit.
Beyond their use in airports, the shuttles also have the potential to be used in other controlled environments, such as university campuses, retirement villages, recreational areas and tourist locations. Eventually, he hopes they can be used on New Zealand’s public roads alongside regular vehicles where the shuttles can be used as a last mile solution.