Can slowing down speed up the adoption of autonomous vehicles? The experts at AEV Robotics think so! The Melbourne-based technology company is working to dramatically improve the affordability and scalability of low-speed autonomous vehicles and autonomous fleet services.
AEV Robtics has built a software-based, modular vehicle system, whereby an electric, multidirectional, robotic base is fitted with customisable pods. The pods will enable businesses, city planners and fleet managers to move people, deliver goods and perform tasks safely and cost-effectively at low speed in urban environments.
It's a novel approach and one that Investible was proud to back; participating in a $2.5 million funding round.
Having worked for nearly two decades with General Motors in the US and Australia, CEO Julian Broadbent co-founded AEV Robotics after seeing huge shifts in mega trends for transportation, mostly driven by the e-commerce boom and our attitudes to "not owning anything." With fresh thinking and bold undertaking, places like Silicon Valley were disrupting 100-year-old automakers right under their nose. He sees an opportunity to develop a digital and robotic vehicle platform which is perfectly suited for tech companies operating in the transport industry.
“There are an almost unlimited number of applications for autonomous vehicles, particularly when you focus on creating solutions for low-speed environments. The regulatory framework is much more established and many of the use-cases, such as mining, have already been at play for years. Right away, it’s much more scalable,” says Broadbent.
“By starting with a robotic base, we can empower a wide variety of businesses to customise vehicles that are fit-for-purpose – not too unlike how developers design millions of different applications for a smartphone.”
Globally, investors poured $80 billion into autonomous vehicle development between 2014 and 2017 alone. Yet, most of the innovation in the autonomous vehicle space to date has focused on modifying existing vehicles designs.
“One of the things that excites us most about AEV is that they’re taking a completely new approach that is truly scalable. Incumbents typically deliver incremental innovation; AEV is tackling this challenge from a unique perspective, building a completely new ‘digital’ vehicle that can support a variety of autonomous software applications,” said Daniel Veytsblit, Investment Director at Investible.
As an Australian business, AEV’s potential to develop and deploy autonomous vehicle solutions at scale is particularly timely, following the recent closure of Holden’s manufacturing operations in Australia and the growing demand for sustainable transport solutions.
“With a growing demand for and interest in sustainable and electric transport solutions, AEV is well-positioned to revolutionise the way we move."
“Autonomous vehicles capture our imagination, but the world has yet to see this technology really take hold in a commercia sense. Now, there’s a way to deliver autonomous vehicle solutions at scale, and at a much more feasible cost – and it’s all happening right here in Australia,” added Veytsblit.