Aurrigo driverless shuttle makes debut at ISPS Handa Wales Open

Golfers competing in the ISPS Handa Wales Open are taking part in what is claimed to be the world’s first trial of driverless technology at a live sporting event

Some of the world’s leading golfers will swap their buggies for an autonomous shuttle as a major trial of driverless technology gets underway at the Wales Open tournament, which begins today (20th August) at the Celtic Manor resort in Newport.

Throughout the competition, the autonomous shuttle developed by Coventry firm Aurrigo  – part of the RDM Group – is expected to make more than 100 driverless journeys as it ferries players and their caddies between the course’s Twenty Ten Club House and the first tee.

The vehicle will be guided throughout its journey by a combination of cameras, Lidar, and inertial navigation technology. This uses a computer, motion sensors and rotation sensors to continuously calculate by dead reckoning the position, the orientation, and the velocity of a moving object without the need for external references. Meanwhile, real-time 4G data connectivity will be provided via a Vodafone communications network. This data can be viewed by the Aurrigo fleet management system to remotely monitor and track the vehicles.

The shuttle, which can normally carry up to 12 people, has been redesigned specifically for the tournament to follow all Covid-19 rules, with three twin bench seats able to carry a golfer and their caddie two metres apart.

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. 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.”

ISPS Handa Wales Open
English golfer Ross Fisher prepares to board the driverless shuttle. Credit: Getty Images

Aurrigo, which operates from its Advanced Centre of Engineering in Coventry, has been developing the shuttle for the last two years since it was appointed to be part of the Government’s CCAV Smart Cambridge’s T-CABS project to deliver the UK’s first autonomous bus route.

The shuttle is constructed from high strength composite materials and has a range of up to 124 miles on a single charge using a 96V lithium power pack coupled with a 22KW electric motor.

Transport minister Rachel Maclean said: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.”