Christchurch will host New Zealand's first trial of a fully
autonomous electric vehicle next
HMI Technologies and Christchurch International Airport have
agreed on the New Zealand based and funded trial, which is focussed
on finding answers to key questions about how these vehicles could
operate in this country.
The trials will largely be conducted on the Christchurch Airport
campus, starting on private roads with no public present, with the
long-term aim of moving to public roads once the safety case has
been made and all regulatory approvals are in place.
HMI Technologies has bought a French Navya 15-person shuttle for
the trial. The vehicle is fully autonomous, has no steering
wheel and is electric powered. The vehicle is expected to arrive in
Christchurch before Christmas, with the trial scheduled to begin
early in 2017.
Christchurch Airport GM Corporate Affairs, Michael Singleton,
says the airport's interest in
this trial centres on future plans for linking key areas around
the airport campus.
"We hope to eventually see autonomous vehicles operating in and
around the airport. Before that could happen, we want to understand
the infrastructure and operating requirements for these vehicles,
to understand the human/technology interface and to build the
safety case for autonomous vehicles on our campus. The trial
vehicle being electric also fits well with the airport's
sustainability objectives," says Mr Singleton.
Managing Director of HMI Technologies, Mohammed Hikmet, says his
company and the airport share an interest in New Zealand being an
early adopter of these vehicles.
"Both companies are keen to exploit the opportunities autonomous
vehicles present New
Zealand. I am proud our New Zealand company is taking a lead in
initiating the first trials of this vehicle in this country. We see
huge possibilities for companies like ours to develop solutions and
applications for use with autonomous vehicles."
Former Secretary for Transport, Martin Matthews, is overseeing
the trial and describes it as very significant.
"Autonomous vehicles are coming, whether we are ready or not, so
we are taking the initiative to be ready. Many people believe we
are years away from seeing these vehicles on our roads, but I
disagree. I believe they will be with us very soon, so it's
important we understand what is required for them to operate safely
The trial partners will work with University of Canterbury
researchers and developers, who will help design and undertake the
trials. Christchurch City Council will also use the trials to raise
awareness of how these vehicles and other technological
developments may alter the way cities work in the future. The
Ministry of Transport and New Zealand Transport Agency will also be
involved in the trials.
Link to video http://navya.tech/?lang=en