RDM Group exports autonomous vehicle expertise to the US
RDM Group’s has signed a collaborative agreement with one of the world’s largest design and consulting firms for the built environment.
The Coventry-based manufacturing specialist has teamed up with Arup to pursue a number of transportation and autonomous vehicle projects currently being discussed in the United States.
This collaboration follows a successful partnership in the United Kingdom where the two companies – alongside other consortium partners – are working together to deliver UK Autodrive, the largest of three current trials of automated vehicle technology in the country.
The trial includes a series of urban demonstrations on selected public roads and footpaths in the host cities of Milton Keynes and Coventry and will also investigate other important aspects of automated driving, such as safety, cyber-security, legal and insurance issues, public acceptance and the potential business models for turning automated driving systems into a widespread reality.
“The US offers us a massive opportunity to take the technology we have developed in the UK and apply it to some of the country’s unique ‘first and last mile’ transport issues,” said Miles Garner, Sales & Marketing Director at RDM.
“When we attended the Texas A&M Transportation Institute Technology Conference last year, we met with leading figures in mobility services and they were clearly interested in the work we were doing on our ‘Pod Zero’ range of autonomous vehicles. We realised then that we needed a US base and we started to explore options, including making the most of our existing relationship with Arup.”
RDM’s expansion to the Houston market will involve the recruitment of a dedicated Programme Lead and leasing office space within Arup’s Houston office as a base for developing new relationships. The Arup team will also provide technical expertise on new bids.
Brian Raine, Principal and Houston Group Leader at Arup, welcomed the opportunity: “We have collaborated with RDM Group globally and are excited to bring our combined autonomous vehicle experience to North America.”
RDM Group’s Pod Zero has been hitting the global headlines after it completed its first public trial at last year’s Low Carbon Vehicle show (LCV2016) in the UK.
It is currently built in two variants – four-seater and eight-seater – and offers an operating speed up to 15 mph, multiple battery options up to eight hours or 50 miles, wheelchair accessibility and air conditioning.
All the pods operate autonomously through multiple sensor technologies, including stereo cameras, LiDARS (laser-based light detection and ranging sensors), odometry and ultrasonics.
RDM will bring a demonstration driverless vehicle to the US to showcase the technology and how it works. There are multiple places where it could be used as a first and last mile transport solution, including shopping centres, airports, universities, theme parks and large innovation districts.
“Having a firm like Arup, with their strong international experience, collaborating with us on this new venture is fantastic news as we look to become a global provider of autonomous vehicle solutions,” concluded Miles.
The United States is the second international expansion for RDM Group, with the company also boasting a sales and technical office at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia.