New Zealand company Ohmio Automotion has signed what it says is the world's largest deal for autonomous shuttles.
Ohmio, a subsidiary of the Auckland-based HMI Group, will supply Korean company Southwest Coast Enterprise City Development (SolaSeaDo) 150 autonomous shuttles.
Mohammed Hikmet, founder of HMI Group and Ohmio, referred to the deal as a "major vote of confidence" in the product they've developed.
"This is a significant development for Ohmio and a major 'vote of confidence' in what we have developed", Hikmet said.
The deal relies on SolaSeaDo securing a contract to build a large scale smart city in Korea.
SolaSeaDo are currently in the advanced stages and will know later this year if it has secured the contract for this development.
"This commitment to source our vehicles for this Korean development is a great demonstration of what we can do in New Zealand," Hikmet said.
Dean Zabrieszach, CEO of HMI Technologies, said if the deal is finalised it will be the largest single deployment of autonomous shuttles in the world.
"I am not aware of any other commitment to deploy as many vehicles as this one. We think this is the largest single deployment of autonomous shuttles in the world," Zabrieszach said.
"SolaSeado is very confident about that outcome, so we are very excited by this prospect."
The Ohmio LIFT is a 20-person shuttle that can be extended to carry up to 40 people, and operate on pre-determined routes without the need for a driver.
The wholly developed New Zealand autonomous shuttle was developed by HMI in Pakuranga, Auckland.
Prototype vehicles were demonstrated in Christchurch last September.
"These first vehicles were to show we had developed the know-how to build an autonomous vehicle. Since then we have been developing the Ohmio LIFT, a vehicle that we expect will be used in a range of environments such as airports, business parks and central city areas. We were proud to have made our first sale to Christchurch International Airport in March", Hikmet said.
Hikmet said there had been a lot of international interest in the autonomous shuttle from investors and customers in Asia and North America.
"I am very excited by the strong level of interest we have had in both the USA and Asia. I expect this arrangement with SolaSeaDo will be the first of many to come" Hikmet said.
SolaSeaDo CEO Jinbo Yoon said: "SolaSeado is now aiming to be a designated national smart city, decided by the Korean Government this year. Solaseado will then try to purchase the automated shuttles from Ohmio and, as well, Ohmio will establish manufacturing facilities, including a factory and a research lab of the automated shuttle in SolaSeado in the long run."