A partnership autonomous vehicle maker Aurrigo will see Vodafone help golfers get around at the Wales Open without having to interact with potentially pestilent drivers.
This will apparently be the first major sporting event to use driverless technology and Vodafone is doing its best to derive some social distancing virtue from the move. It will take the form of a shuttle that will whizz from the clubhouse to the first tee and back, like a cripplingly hesitant golfer. The route is presumably straightforward, but sets a precedent nonetheless.
“It’s fantastic to see our leading connectivity playing a pivotal role in making this event happen,” said Anne Sheehan, Director at Vodafone UK. “We’re always looking at ways in which our technology can overcome the challenges brought about by COVID-19.” It’s not immediately clear that the whole thing would have to be called off in the absence of these shuttles, it should be noted.
“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,” said David Keene, CEO of Aurrigo. “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.”
Germophobia aside, there are some other novel bits of tech involved in this. As well as Vodafone’s 4G network (no mention of NB-IoT, which Vodafone used to be so keen on), the shuttles use Lidar and an inertial navigation system to keep themselves on the straight-and-narrow. These sorts of technologies may eventually combine with low-latency 5G to create a Utopia in which human drivers are obsolete. They’ll be automating putters next, you mark our words.