Issue 41 Unmanned Systems Technology December/January 2022 PteroDynamics X-P4 l Sense & avoid l 4Front Robotics Cricket l Autonomous transport l NWFC-1500 fuel cell l DroneX report l OceanScout I Composites I DSEI 2021 report

54 I t has been said that humanity’s quality of life depends utterly on access to safe, consistent transportation, be it to do our jobs, pick up provisions or for socialising. Developing autonomous transport technology is fundamental to widening that access, as it will remove the limits on the availability of transport routes, trained drivers or pilots, for which there are labour shortages (as with many industries nowadays). While news items about self-driving cars have been legion over the past few years, the same cannot be said of actual practical cases pushing larger-scale deployment of autonomous transport systems. However, some projects around the world are now forging ahead to do just that, with the goal of regular, reliable mobility in mind. Buses The Irizar Group has become one of the first companies in the world to use an autonomous bus in real-world traffic. Malaga, in Spain, became the testing ground for one of the Spanish OEM’s battery-electric buses (refitted to work autonomously) earlier this year. It is a commercial trial run that has come after 4 years of r&d by Irizar, its various subsidiaries (in charge of different subcomponents) and 11 partners across the commercial and academic worlds. “In addition to researching better batteries for more sustainable transport over the past decade, we want smart, autonomous buses that make for safer and more efficient driving routes,” explains Imanol Rego, director-general of Irizar E-Mobility. “We’ve incorporated a range of hardware for almost 360 º awareness, and a range of software for smart object avoidance and predictive analytics for conditions such as blind corners. Our initial objective is to prove it can operate to SAE Level 3 autonomy – that is, conditioned automation – as the commercial operator Avanza must always have a driver on board.” The bus platform is one of Irizar’s ie models, a 12 m-long transport vehicle typically built with 350-425 kWh of lithium-ion battery packs and a 180 kW synchronous electric motor. This gives an expected maximum range of around 250 km (and 17 hours of operating time) between recharges, with enough seating for up to 70 passengers. The route December/January 2022 | Unmanned Systems Technology