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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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A level results still high in Ceredigion

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THE ‘A’ level examination results published today by the WJEC (15 August) show that high standards are being achieved in Ceredigion schools once again. 97.9% of entries for WJEC examinations were graded A* to E, with 27.9% of the entries achieving the top ’A’ grades.

Ceredigion pupils continue to outperform the Welsh average. More pupils in Ceredigion achieve the top ’A’ grades and A* to E grades. The below table shows a comparison with average Welsh figures. These don’t include Welsh Baccalaureate results and those from examination bodies other than WJEC.

Wales 2019             Ceredigion 2019

Grade A* – A           27.92%                    27.0%

Grade A* – B           56.0%                      n/a

Grade A* – C          77.5%                        n/a

Grade A* – E          97.9%                       97.6%

Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services. She said, “I would like to extend my warmest congratulations once again to Ceredigion’s sixth form students for their successes in this year’s A Level and AS examinations.

These results are the culmination of a long journey through school life which has seen them nurture and develop the academic and interpersonal skills that will enable them to move confidently into higher education, training or employment in fields of their choice. I wish them good luck for the future and would like to sincerely thank all who have contributed to their school journey in any way.”

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MP Ben Lake calls for reform of police funding

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HAVING recently shadowed Dyfed Powys Police officers in Aberystwyth, the Ceredigion MP has again urged the UK Government to review the police funding formula for rural areas.

Mr Lake visited Aberystwyth police station as part of the #GiveADayToPolicing campaign, a scheme for Members of Parliament to better understand the challenges currently facing police forces across the UK.

During his visit Mr Lake had the opportunity to experience a variety of aspects of local policing – from spending time with the neighbourhood policing team, meeting officers from different departments, and discussing policing challenges with front-line police officers.

Mr Lake has challenged the UK Government on several occasions to reform the formula for police funding – highlighting the need for the funding formula to take into consideration the seasonal pressures on forces, particularly the significant increase to the population of coastal areas during the summer months.

Mr Lake said: “I am very grateful to the officers of Aberystwyth police station for their welcome, and for taking the time to speak with me. I now have a better understanding of the challenges our police officers face, as well as a deeper level of respect and admiration of their work and commitment to public safety.

“As I have previously stated, we cannot expect a one size fits all approach to work effectively across the whole of the UK, and as such, it is imperative that the criteria used to allocate the Home Office police grant are revised so that they reflect the increased demands and unique challenges facing rural forces in areas such as Ceredigion, especially during summer months.”

Mr Lake added: “It is widely acknowledged that Welsh police forces have suffered under the present funding formula, and so it is high time that the UK Government either amends the formula accordingly, or devolves the responsibility for policing to the Welsh Government so that they may do so themselves.”

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New waste trial launched in Aberystwyth

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A NEW trial has been launched in Aberystwyth as part of the Caru Aber campaign, to help keep the town centre clean on waste collection days.

Heavy duty sacks will be placed on Aberystwyth streets on Monday afternoons before the black bag collection on Tuesdays in the following streets; Portland Street, Portland Road, Queen Street, Corporation Street, Eastgate Street, New Street and Cambrian Place.

Black bags should be put in the sacks by 8am on Tuesday mornings for collection. The intention is that the sacks contain the waste until it is collected. The sacks will be retrieved after the waste has been collected to avoid clutter and obstruction on the streets.

Councillor Dafydd Edwards is the Cabinet member responsible for Highways and Environmental Services together with Housing. He said: “We see this trial as a practical and relatively cost effective way of responding to long standing issues relating to domestic waste presentation in Aberystwyth town centre. The sacks will also provide a visible reminder to residents in the town centre on what days to present their black bags.

“The trial forms part of the Caru Aber campaign, and the wider Caru Ceredigion campaign, where the council looks to work with local communities to address issues which are of concern or are important to them.

“This innovative approach is another example of positive proactive action the council is taking. We hope that the residents of the town centre will play their part by making good use of the sacks as this will be the critical factor in measuring the success of the scheme.”

Clean recycling and food waste should continue to be presented on a weekly basis in the containers that the council already provides through clear bags and food caddies.

Ensuring that the right waste is presented in the right way and on the right day will help to make sure that the town’s streets are kept clean and that the waste is contained, managed and treated in the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way as possible.

The sacks were first used in readiness for waste collections on Tuesday 6 August 2019. The initial feedback is positive as they have worked to contain the waste on the streets, which were noticeably cleaner.

This latest initiative is developing on feedback and experience from two other trials undertaken. The success of the trial will be monitored on an ongoing basis and reviewed to reflect the experience which will include looking at ways of engaging all residents.

For more information about the new scheme, please contact the Customer Services Contact Centre on 01545 570 881 or by e-mail on clic@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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