Autonomous vehicles have been in the news a lot this year, including the French autonomous shuttle maker NAVYA ARMA, which just announced its first assembly plant outside Europe will be in Michigan, US.
The Autonomous NAVYA Arma Shuttle
Autonomous vehicles are essential to the future landscape of mobility. With transportation playing such a crucial role in the livelihood of societies, it needs to be efficient and fluent. Sadly, our traffic-infested and congested highways are anything but. Autonomous shuttles are part of the solution to allow residents greater public mass transportation hub access, and thus partially answer that thorny last-mile issue solution.
As cities grow, they push an influx of residents outwards. But the further away, the more difficult it is to hop on public transportation to reach key city points. While autonomous technology might not be completely here yet, it promises growth and transportation network expansions. In order to coax people to abandon that car when a bicycle isn’t possible, we need to learn the lessons Los Angeles and Atlanta have taught us about traffic congestion. By allowing citizens greater mobility, cities attract an influx of quality residents.
Using LIDAR sensors for 3D perception that maps out the environment, a GPS RTK system allows a precise positioning of the vehicle and ensures obstacle detection.
A camera stereovision is used for obstacle detection, which estimates positioning environment information, such as road signs, traffic lights, and their relationship in regards to the vehicle.
The Problem the Autonomous NAVYA Arma Addresses
Basing your first international production plant abroad in Michigan also sends a strong message to the rest of the sleeping industry. And if history is any teacher, Michelin, the French tire company that established a manufacturing plant in Virginia in the early 1970s could be a lesson. It was the first time a foreign company opened up a manufacturing plant on the US soil, and what goes with tires are the vehicles that sit on top of them.
In December 2016, NAVYA introduced its ARMA to North America at Mcity’s proving ground for connected and automated vehicles. The shuttle has been used to support research and for demonstration purposes since then. NAVYA eventually became an official affiliate member of Mcity. It sounds as if the autonomous NAVYA Arma is trying to pull the same thing by establishing its first manufacturing plant abroad here to better represent itself and win contracts. There is certainly nothing wrong with that.
Thanks to its university partnership, the NAVYA ARMA, the 100% driverless electric autonomous shuttle vehicle, will be built in Michigan, where it hopes to find its first local homes. NAVYA is also jumping on the opportunity to work directly with experienced automotive professionals in the industry. It decided Ann Arbor was the right area for its first international presence.
According to Henri Coron, NAVYA’s Vice President of Sales, the company plans to build 20 vehicles at the new plant before the end of the year. 15 people will be hired at the Michigan facility before the end of 2017. On the other good news front, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is mulling over providing economic incentives in support of the project.
Coron added: “Thanks to our strong partnerships with Ann Arbor SPARK, the University of Michigan and the State of Michigan, we decided to choose the Ann Arbor area to establish our US headquarters. The Ann Arbor area offers a lot of possibilities for NAVYA to work with our suppliers and hire high-level professionals.
As far as what Paul Krutko, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK had to say: “NAVYA is a global leader in autonomous mobility innovations. With its funding and other resources, it could easily locate anywhere in the world…With our talent, infrastructure, and established network of mobility technology businesses, it’s a great choice for NAVYA to call the Ann Arbor region home.”
Michigan is publicly backing autonomous vehicles on its roads with Gov. Rick Snyder, who signed driverless vehicles legislation to be tested in the state. The new laws tries to position Michigan as a global leader in autonomous, driverless, and connected vehicle technology industry.
Final Thoughts on the Autonomous NAVYA Arma
Final and last mile connections are becoming crucial as cities continue to grow, stretching suburban land further away. Connecting these far away residential points doesn’t necessarily mean extending rail lines. Although an elegant and long lasting idea, there are more affordable alternatives that potentially save money in the long run, as well as save on maintenance and more. The autonomous NAVYA ARMA shuttle is one such answer that fits today’s mobility needs well.