One of my favorite things about St. Augustine are the tourist trolleys that shuttle people around the historic sites and let you learn the history of that old city without worrying too much about the traffic, pedestrians, drunken pub-crawlers, etc. Despite cutting down on the number of rental cars, the trolleys aren’t nearly as clean as they can be. The ones I experienced were Ford V8-powered machines, or else not-so-clean diesels with train bodies. So, how do we get the benefits of a downtown trolley without so much combustion? Singapore has the answer: an electric shuttle that drives itself called the Navia.
Here’s a quick video, from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, that shows all the basics of the little Navia shuttle, which can carry up to 8 passengers along predetermined routes, selectable through a touchscreen tablet integrated into the “dash.”
As you can see, the electric shuttle uses a number of laser-mapping units, along with optical cameras, to generate a real-time 3D map of its surroundings. The cameras and lasers allows the shuttle to avoid obstacles, stay in its lane, keep from mowing down tourists, and generally keep the little guy from getting into trouble. Once the shuttle has completed its route, the shuttle automatically heads to its wireless fast charging station without needing any rails, overhead lines, or wires embedded in the roads to function.
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