Some of the world’s best golfers swapped their buggies for an altogether more futuristic mode of transport t as the Wales Open becomes one of the world’s first sporting tournaments to embrace driverless cars.
Aurrigo’s Auto-Shuttle ran three golfers and their caddies at a time from the 2010 Ryder Cup Clubhouse to the first tee, ensuring social distancing rules are obeyed.
While it’s large enough to seat 10 people under standard conditions, its interior has been reconfigured with three benches capable of seating two people two metres apart, positioned 1 metre apart from the next nearest bench.
It feeds back data from its journey over Vodafone’s 4G network, allowing Aurrigo’s fleet management system to keep an eye on its progress remotely.
Although no driver will be present during the runs at Celtic Manor, a safety operator will be on hand in a front cab to take over in the case of an emergency.
While four-seater driverless pods from Aurrigo and fellow British firm Oxbotica have become a common sight in various trials in Milton Keynes and Greenwich, London, in recent years, the Wales Open is the first sporting tournament to use an autonomous vehicle at a live event.
Englishman Sam Horsfield, 23, will be hoping to secure his third event on the trot after winning the Celtic Classic at the same venue last week.
The report will examine the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS), which positions the vehicle within a lane, controlling its speed and movements free from human intervention.
Experts will be consulted over the system’s efficiency and safety, seeking to establish who will bear the burden of responsibility while driving: the human behind the wheel or the manufacturer of the system.