Reimagining the car: Australian start-up develops solar-charged, driverless electric vehicle system

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Case study
Publication Date: 
April 2021

Robotics company Applied Electric Vehicles (AEV) has developed an innovative autonomous electric vehicle that anticipates future mobility needs.

The company’s ‘Blanc Robot’ platform provides a lightweight robotic base for each vehicle that is software controlled, programmable and highly capable.

A range of ‘pods’ can attach to the base platform. Each pod suits a specific purpose, from goods delivery to passenger transport and even waste management.

AEV’s vehicles are unique because they are both autonomous and self-charging, thanks to solar panels embedded in the roof. The lightweight platform is also highly energy efficient, meaning each vehicle can generate up to 30-50% of its energy requirements from the sun.

The use of solar panels is a big step forward in the use of renewables for transport. It also allows for smaller, cheaper battery packs, reducing the need for special charging stations.

Though the current range of vehicles is best suited to short trips around industrial estates and urban areas, the potential uses are vast.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has committed $2 million for energy-related aspects of the new vehicle. Part of this funding has gone toward selecting the most appropriate solar photovoltaic (PV) technology.

AEV previewed the technology on the global stage at the CES 2021 tech event in January, generating strong interest.

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Applied Electric Vehicles’ Blanc Robot technologyAEV’s vehicles can generate up to 30-50% of their energy requirements from the sun thanks to solar panels embedded in the roof. Image credit: Applied Electric Vehicles.

The Blanc Robot base platformThe versatile base platform, Blanc Robot, can be fitted with a variety of ‘pods’ tailored to different purposes. Image credit: Applied Electric Vehicles.