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Academy of Robotics closes funding after six hours

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WALES-BASED electric autonomous vehicle company, the Academy of Robotics, has closed its latest funding round in under six hours.

Investment came in so quickly that founder William Sachiti turned down an additional £500,000 that was offered.

The Academy of Robotics, which was initially set up at the University of Aberystwyth and now also has offices in Cardiff, is currently developing Kar-Go, the autonomous delivery vehicle. Kar-Go hopes to shake-up the delivery market by removing 90% of the costs involved in making a delivery – helping to increase profits for logistics companies and decrease costs for consumers.

By using a combination of advanced robotics and driverless vehicle technology, Kar-Go is designed to autonomously drive on unmarked roads such as residential areas. Unlike many driverless vehicles that are best-suited to main roads and highways, Kar-Go is specifically designed with small, residential side-streets in mind.

The company recently announced it hired award winning designer Paul Burgess who left his role at McLaren to become chief designer at the Academy of Robotics.

The company has developed its own vehicle chassis and proprietary software, and has filed several patents around autonomous vehicle technology and autonomous delivery for more complex logistics environments.

The Academy of Robotics is partnered with UK car manufacturer Pilgrim Motorsports with whom they are working to build the street legal versions of their autonomous vehicles at Pilgrim’s production facility in the UK.

The founder of the Academy of Robotics, William Sachiti said: “It has been 10 months since we closed our last funding round, as costs constantly change, there was a need to raise an additional 70K to take us through production. We reached out to our existing investors and showed them our progress to date and then simply asked them to help close the funding gap. In under six hours we had pledges for over 100K from half a dozen investors. Within 24 hours, pledges reached nearly half a million.“

“Half the formula for a winning start-up is having great investors aligned with it, who react decisively to funding rounds and requests for investment. We are very lucky to have great investors on board who fit into this category. My job is to steer the company in the right direction while also looking after the interests of the existing investors, which is why I only accepted 100K and turned down the rest.

“I am not keen on taking a bunch of money and then subsequently diluting our existing shareholders. In terms of fundraising, we will soon raise a larger round as we roll out and begin trials but there is value in waiting until our prototype is complete. After the prototype is complete, we will be able to raise at a bigger valuation which is much better for the shareholders we have currently.

“Working on Kar-Go has been an incredible collaborative journey between people in four countries, national retailers, logistics companies and our tech partner NVIDIA. We are on the final stretch and can’t wait to show the world what we have all been working on.”

The company was recently mentioned by Richard Branson when asked who he thought might be among the first to put autonomous cars on the UK’s roads. Branson also linked to Kar-Go on his Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

For more information about Kar-Go see: www.academyofrobotics.co.uk and https://youtu.be/9tSSPhGvYKE

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RNLI in Wales urges people to stay safe as Storm Brendan hits

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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging people to stay safe near the Welsh coast as severe weather could make our seas and coastlines particularly dangerous.

Lifesaving charity, the RNLI, is encouraging people to exercise extreme caution if visiting the shoreline, especially along exposed cliffs, seafronts and piers.

The expected strong winds and severe gales pose a severe safety risk to those visiting the coast.

Named Storm Brendan by Met Eireann, it swept eastwards across Ireland before making its way through the rest of the UK this morning with yellow wind warning in place for most of the Welsh coast.

Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Water Safety Lead for Wales said:

‘This rough weather could make visiting parts of the Welsh coastline treacherous and bring very dangerous sea conditions.

‘Sadly, around 150 people lose their lives on British and Irish coasts each year and over half of these people didn’t plan on ever entering the water. Slips, trips and falls can be a major factor in these kinds of incidents.’

If you see someone else in danger in the water, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you have something that floats that they can hold on to, throw it to them. Don’t go in the water yourself – too many people drown trying to save others.

The charity, which provides a search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland, is facing its own Perfect Storm as demand for its services has increased but it is facing a shortfall in funds. This past year, the RNLI has been busier than ever, and stormy conditions can mean additional call outs for the already extremely busy volunteer crews. Whatever the weather, RNLI volunteers will still be on call to rescue those at difficulty at sea.

The RNLI’s major new fundraising appeal, The Perfect Storm, which aims to help the charity get back to living within its means, is running throughout November and December. To find out more or to donate visit RNLI.org/ThePerfect Storm.

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Community

Are you missing out on a Council Tax reduction?

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IF YOU’RE struggling to pay your Council Tax bill, then help could be available for you through the Welsh Government’s flagship Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS).

The scheme, which will continue to support vulnerable households in 2020-21, currently benefits one in five of all households in Wales. In the last year almost 280,000 low-income households have received help from the scheme, with 220,000 paying no council tax at all. Many more receive other discounts or exemptions.

You may be entitled to pay less council tax if:

• you believe you live on a low income
• you live alone, or with people/children who do not pay council tax
• you are a student
• you are disabled
• you are severely mentally impaired

Understanding why there are still vulnerable households not benefitting from the help they are entitled to is a priority for the Welsh Government. Last year we commissioned research to understand the circumstances of households in Wales and the effects of the UK Government’s Universal Credit on the CTRS.

The interim report out today shows that for many households, the move to Universal Credit can have a significant impact on council tax reduction awards. Whilst many households currently receiving a 100% reduction will continue to do so, for others, the move to Universal Credit is shown to have an adverse impact, particularly for employed households, self-employed households, and working households in receipt of a Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

Full findings of the interim report are available on the Welsh Government website. These findings will now be considered in more detail to inform the next stages of the research and policy development in this area.

Encouraging people to make sure they are not missing out on help they could be entitled to, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:

“Ensuring every household in Wales receives the council tax support they are entitled to is an important part of our commitment to making council tax fairer.

“Our scheme is already helping hundreds of thousands of households across Wales, but we know that there are still many missing out on the discounts, reductions and exemptions they are entitled to. I encourage everyone to check the Welsh Government website to find out if they could be paying less.”

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Success for Dyfed-Powys Police in targeting drugs suppliers in Ceredigion

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A drugs supplier in the Ceredigion area has been sentenced to 2 years and 2 months in prison.

Kylie Mason, 34, from Aberaeron, was arrested on the 28th October 2019, and later charged with 2 offences of possession with intent to supply a controlled drug and two offences of supply a controlled drug of Class A. She pleaded guilty at court and received a total sentence of two years and two months in prison on the 8th January.

Detective Sergeant Steven Jones said: “This is an excellent result for the Aberaeron community, who had raised concerns about this individual supplying drugs in the area. I hope this will serve as a warning to others who wish to bring drugs into the Ceredigion area that it will not be tolerated. This result will go a long way towards keeping our communities safe. If anyone is worried about drugs in their community I would urge them to contact police as we will take the appropriate action.”

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