Golfers and their caddies taking part in this week’s ISPS Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor are being transported to the opening tee in a driverless shuttle bus 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.
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 alone. 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.”
Sales have come from customers in Australia, Canada, Finland, Singapore and the US, with the latest deal seeing one of its ‘Pod Zeros’ heading to China, a potential landmark moment for the Coventry-based business.