GOLF’S EUROPEAN TOUR TO TRIAL DRIVERLESS TRANSPORT AT CELTIC MANOR
>> Vodafone partners with Aurrigo to create a driverless transport service from the clubhouse to the opening tee at this year’s ISPS Handa Wales Open.
>> ISPS Handa Wales Open is the first live sports event to use driverless travel.
>> Fully autonomous vehicle aims to be the future of transport in a post-Covid world.
Golfers and their caddies appearing at the ISPS Handa Wales Open will today be taken out to the opening tee in a driverless shuttle, powered by Vodafone’s 4G network. The tournament will be the first major sporting event to use driverless technology, supporting social distancing guidelines.
The shuttles, created through a partnership between Vodafone and Coventry-based autonomous vehicle developer and manufacturer Aurrigo, will carry some of the European Tour’s leading stars from the famous Twenty Ten Clubhouse to the first tee.
Vodafone will be providing its leading 4G network connectivity to the shuttles, to enable the high speed and real time data transfers critical in supporting the precise positioning and location of the vehicle on its journey.
The shuttles feature Lidar technology, cameras and an inertial navigation system which come together to guide the vehicle on its journey. The data can then be viewed by the Aurrigo fleet management system to remotely monitor and track them.
Golfers and their caddies, including European Tour star Ross Fisher, will be transported in the vehicle in pairs. Passengers will sit a minimum of two metres apart in transit, to ensure social distancing and minimise the spread of Covid-19.
Anne Sheehan, Director, Vodafone UK, said: "It’s fantastic to see our leading connectivity playing a pivotal role in making this event happen. We’re always looking at ways in which our technology can overcome the challenges brought about by Covid-19."
David Keene, CEO of Aurrigo, commented: "We have worked 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.
"It is a great opportunity to showcase our technology in front of a global audience and, potentially, provides an insight into how a Covid-19 secure autonomous vehicle could be a blueprint for future transport solutions across the world."
WHAT IMPACT WILL 5G HAVE ON THE FUTURE OF DRIVERLESS TRANSPORT?
In this video (below), Simon Brewerton, Chief Technology Officer at autonomous vehicle maker Aurrigo, chats to Danny Kelly, Head of Innovation, Vodafone UK, about the future of driverless transport and the important role high-speed mobile connectivity will play in making these automated systems function effectively and safely.
Driverless vehicles are already being used in the UK, whether ferrying golfers from the clubhouse to the first tee or transferring baggage around airports.
To operate safely such vehicles rely on an array of sensors – such as laser scanners, cameras, tachometers and GPS mapping – to help them ‘see’ and navigate the world around them.
But all these sensors generate a lot of data that has to be transferred across the communications network in real time to traffic management centres. In time, vehicles will also be able to communicate with each other and with transport infrastructure such as traffic lights and street signs.
This is why high-speed 5G connectivity, with its low latency (lag) and high bandwidth (capacity), will be so important in the creation of autonomous transport systems within the smart cities of the future, experts believe.
"You need to have the connectivity, and the connectivity has to have the low latency so you can be….monitoring in real time," says Mr Brewerton.
"You need the high bandwidth because you need video signals and you’ve got to get that from a vehicle out over your network.
"If you don’t have the low latency and you don’t have the high bandwidth it’s really hard to take the humans out of the vehicle."
Vodafone is involved in several autonomous vehicle projects across the country and recently announced a partnership with Midlands Future Mobility to provide 5G connectivity along 300 miles of road in the West Midlands as part of the consortium’s autonomous vehicles trial.