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Aussie start-up scores funding for autonomous EV
Local start-up AEV secures federal funding for self-drive EV with solar roof panels
12 Mar 2020
AUSTRALIAN automotive start-up Applied Electric Vehicles (AEV) has secured $2 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) in order to advance the next stage of its EV commercialisation program.
The local company is in the process of developing an autonomous, driverless EV that will feature a solar roof panel designed to help supply the majority of the car’s energy requirements.
AEV first presented a driverless EV platform it calls the Modular Vehicle System (MVS) at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last year, and the latest funding will allow the company to create a pre-production prototype before progressing to the final stages of design and testing.
Altogether, the project cost runs to $7.65m, and is being delivered in partnership with Japanese manufacturer Teijin Limited, which is assisting with developing the vehicle’s lightweight materials and manufacturing methods.
The federal grant will go towards working out energy problems such as selecting the correct solar photovoltaic (PV) for the roof, as well as finding ways to optimise the mass, energy efficiency, solar gain and safety of the vehicle.
AEV is hoping the solar roof will generate up to 60 per cent of the vehicle’s total energy requirements depending on the application, while the small lithium-ion battery will allow charging from a common 240V wall socket.
The AEV car is designed for short trips at low speeds, and its modular layout can support a range of applications such as deliveries, agricultural use, industrial applications, waste management and the most obvious, passenger transport.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the investment aimed to support local innovation in technologies that are expected to boom in the future.
“EVs are expected to play an important role in the coming decade in reducing the carbon footprint of transport,” he said.
“We hope to see AEV commercialise a homegrown driverless electric vehicle and be among the first to unlock the global driverless EV market.
“There is significant opportunity in the low-speed vehicle market which is expected to gain considerable traction in cities, campuses and factories over the next decade that AEV could tap into.”
He added that the technology developed in the project could be used in future EVs, including integrating the solar panels into curved surfaces.
AEV CEO Julian Broadbent said the autonomous vehicle would suit a wide range of applications for businesses.
“The Modular Vehicle System will offer companies access to transport that is cost-effective, pedestrian-friendly, gentle on the environment and very customisable to their business needs,” he said.
“We appreciate ARENA’s support for AEV, providing both funding and valuable expertise along the way.
“With ARENA’s assistance, we’ll be able to take our design to the next stage of development in utilising renewables for our autonomous electric vehicle and provide something potentially game changing in the low-speed EV market.”
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