Golfers participating in the Wales Open 2020 this week will be among the first sportspeople to be shuttled around in autonomous cars.
Used in place of buggies, the shuttles will be able to run three golfers and their caddies at a time from the Twenty Ten Club House at the Celtic Manor near Newport to the first tee, ensuring that social distancing measures are maintained at all times.
Coventry-based firm Aurrigo is behind the vehicles, which use cameras, inertial navigation technology and LIDAR sensors to ‘drive’ through its journey. The data produced by each trip can then be viewed by the Aurrigo team to remotely monitor and track the vehicles.
David Keene, CEO of Aurrigo, commented: “This is a really exciting milestone for our business and this technology, as it will be the first time ever in the world that sportspeople will be carried by an autonomous vehicle at a live event.
“We have been working extremely closely with the European Tour and the players to redesign the inside of the shuttle to ensure that it is fully Covid-19 secure, whilst our new technology partnership with Vodafone will provide vital connectivity.”
“Our engineering team will be based at the Celtic Manor Resort to oversee the shuttle’s operations, which will be running for the duration of the ISPS Handa Wales Open. In total, we expect to make over 100 driverless journeys.”
We're pleased to announce that our self-driving shuttle has broken cover at @TheCelticManor and will be taking competitors at the @EuropeanTour to the first tee. We're looking forward to a great four days of golf! https://t.co/y4jOZwoZ9j
— Aurrigo – Driverless Technology (@aurrigotech) August 20, 2020
Each shuttle is made from high-strength composite materials, while a 96-volt lithium power pack and 22kW electric motor enable a range of up to 124 miles between charges. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic the shuttle was expected to seat 12 people and has the option to safely accommodate wheelchair passengers.
Transport Minister Rachel Maclean added: “This is a global-first for the sporting world and I’m excited to see how this technology develops as we look to secure the UK’s position as a world-leading innovator.
“Self-driving vehicle technology is crucial for the transport revolution happening today in the UK, which is why milestones such as this are so important – helping to make everyday journeys greener, safer, more flexible and more reliable.”