All Sections

Electric shuttle is the first driverless ‘car’ to go on sale

The first driverless car to go on a sale is an electric shuttle – and it’s all yours for £170,000.

Induct Technology has launched the first driverless car to go on sale for £170,000. The company, which is based just outside of Paris, has named the self-driving shuttle ’Navia’, and introduced it at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. 

The Navia isn’t allowed on public roads, and it can’t recognise any traffic signals. So what makes it so special and why might you want one? Well Induct Technology believe it can be used around college campuses, shopping malls and hospitals, and can also aid the mobility of those who are elderly or disabled. 

But you might not want to rely on the Navia if you’re in a hurry. The slow-moving shuttle has no controls and no seats, and its top speed is a measly 12.5mph. 

So how does it find its way around? Through laser-based Lidar sensors, which give a 200-yard sweep of the road ahead, while the cameras on the vehicle serve as eyes. This means that if the Navia detects an obstacle, it immediately stops before deciding whether it’s safe to go on. Adrian Sussmann, Induct’s head of business development, said: “It’s a bit like a lift. If it gets stuck it stops and you just press a call button to get help.”

You can summon the car using a smartphone and tap your destination into an onboard tablet computer. 

There are two versions of the Navia to choose from. The first version uses lithium-polymer batteries that can be fully recharged in six hours, whilst the other relies on a super-capacitor, which picks up enough charge for a mile of driving in a 15-second stop. The first version is much more flexible in where it can go, whilst the second really limits you to follow prescribed routes. 

Mr Sussman has added: [The Navia] requires no maintenance and no driver, so it is 40 to 60 per cent cheaper to operate than a manned shuttle.”

The Navia won the Popular Science Product of the Year at the Consumer Electrics Show, and has been tested in Switzerland, Singapore, as well as in Oxfordshire. The first four buyers, in America, are yet to be announced – so watch this space!

What do you think about the Navia? Great idea or waste of money? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Comments