New Zealand operator Spark, in partnership with Ohmio Automotion, has launched a 5G-connected driverless car test on Auckland streets. The test is being carried out in a controlled area at Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct, using Spark’s pre-commercial 5G network available as part of its 5G Innovation Lab.
The 5G-connected driverless car was developed by Ohmio, a New Zealand company which has been trialling autonomous vehicles at Christchurch airport. Since these trials, the car has been upgraded with new technology to enable its integration with Spark’s 5G test network.
The 5G-connected car carries up to four people. Using a tablet, passengers can hail the car which moves down the street to collect them. Inside, a dashboard tells customers what the car is monitoring in real time, using LiDAR technology to help make sense of the surrounding environment. While the vehicle is capable of driving itself at up to 25 kmph, the trial will cap the vehicles’ top speed at 7 kmph during the pre-programmed test drive loop lasting approximately seven minutes.
Ohmio plans to launch more driverless cars in more closed facilities across New Zealand, including airports, university campuses, retirement villages and hospitals. Ohmio intends to achieve on-road certification and look for opportunities to use the cars on public streets alongside regular vehicles. One example of this is a ‘First and Last Mile Solution’ to carry people short distances and provide a connection to or from transport hubs, reducing the need for park-and-rides.