Continuing our Innovators Series we talk with Miles Garner, Director of Sales and Marketing at RDM Group, to learn more about championing their innovative autonomous vehicles!
As Director of Sales and Marketing for RDM Group, Miles leads sales strategy, marketing and PR. Miles has been working in the automotive industry for 35 years, including experience with blue chip companies Philips, Sony UK / Europe and Cobra telematics. He joined RDM eight years ago and has been championing their innovative autonomous vehicles, now under the Aurrigo brand.
How has 2020 been for your business? What have been the key highlights?
Aurrigo has had a challenging year like most companies working around the COVID pandemic and lockdown constraints. Despite this we are extremely proud to have launched new vehicles and been recognised by winning a number of industry awards, notably the Autocar Innovation Award in July. Aurrigo beat some of the world’s largest car manufacturers to secure the accolade for its innovation and breakthrough work with the driverless PodZero, shuttle and our autonomous baggage dolly.
In August we launched the 10-person shuttle during the European PGA Wales Open at the Celtic Manor Resort. Golfers and officials were transported from the club house to the 1st Tee whilst maintaining social distancing measures.
This model is also being deployed in the Government backed trial with Cambridge Council. The first shuttle in West Cambridge began operation in October and is one of three vehicles that is transporting passengers from the Madingley Road park and ride to West Cambridge Uni and Madingley Rise Campus’s.
The shuttle was originally designed to carry 10 people but was adapted with new seating to meet social distancing requirements and now carries up to 5 passengers.
This shuttle is designed for city centres, leisure resorts and campuses. It is the only Autonomous shuttle that can also be operated manually as a conventional EV with a steering wheel and pedals.
How did you get involved with making Ventilators during COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year?
Back in April the Government approached several advanced engineering companies to manufacture ventilators to respond to the predicted shortage due to the number of people in hospital suffering from COVID19. Aurrigo switched its focus from autonomous vehicles to ventilators which was no mean feat with changing demands and specifications. We were one of ten companies that made an extraordinary effort to develop a ventilator ready for the NHS to deploy.
What are the biggest challenges for Aurrigo going forward?
Aurrigo‘s customers include local authority councils, Government departments and the events and hospitality sector which have all been impacted by the COVID pandemic. However, the biggest longer-term challenge holding back the roll out of autonomous vehicles to the mass market is the need for the right .
So, what is the focus for 2021?
Whilst the current problems facing the airlines industry are widely documented, we are hopeful that 2021 will see a return to more normal operations and the opportunity to move forward with our autonomous baggage dolly following a successful trial last year at Heathrow Terminal 5 with International Airline Group and British Airways.
Can you tell us about your work with Blind Veterans UK?
Aurrigo was contacted by Blind Veterans UK following the media coverage from our pod trials in Milton Keynes. The charity, based in Brighton, supports ex military service men and women who are visually impaired, or blind having served in the British Armed Forces. Our 6-month collaboration explored how voice activated technology could be applied in the pods and how they could be used to transport veterans around the campus between activity centres, the chapel and memorial benches.
A pod was modified to include new features, including additional internal and external lighting, grab rails, external sounder and improved seating and user-friendly controls. We believe it was the first trial of its kind and feedback from the project was incredibly positive with veterans commenting on how the pod could help improve their mobility independence and isolation.
Of all the projects, this was perhaps one of the most humbling and rewarding as it really makes a difference to people’s lives.