Published on January 20th, 2018 | by Nicolas Zart0
Autonomous Vehicles Got You Intrigued? How Would You Feel Riding In A Self-Driving Taxi?
January 20th, 2018 by Nicolas Zart
It seems no matter how we feel or what we want, autonomous vehicles (AV) are coming sooner than later. And the obvious first market is taxis.
Would You Trust A Self-Driving Taxi?
NAVYA thinks so. Whether you’re an avid modern Sci-Fi reader or moviegoer, chances are you might welcome an AV taxi. But if you are a 1960s Sci-Fi literature buff, chances are the prospect of a self-driving taxi might send chills to your spine.
We’re not joking when we say AV taxis are coming sooner than later. The French self-driving cab company NAVYA just announced the AUTONOM CAB. As the name suggests, it is an autonomous cab and it is readily available now. The company claims it is: “the first robotized production cab on the market. Autonomous, personalized and shared, this unique mobility solution provides an answer to urban mobility’s major challenges.”
NAVYA reminds us that by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be concentrated in cities, with 1 billion cars around the world. Traffic jams and road congestions are not only a nuisance — they are a loss of productivity. NAVYA believes AVs will save road fatalities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 3 million traffic fatalities around the world yearly.
Self-Driving People Movers, Taxis, & More
NAVYA’s AUTONOM CAB is designed around a wide interior aimed at replacing taxis. And Christophe Sapet, NAVYA’s CEO, is certainly enthusiastic about the idea of AV taxis.
“Ever since it was founded, NAVYA has been listening to cities and the mobility market. Today, we must recognize that the status of individual cars has changed, especially among younger generations. Young people today do not necessarily have their driver’s license and are less attached to the concept of owning their own car. What really interests them is having mobility solutions that are operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ensuring their safety and well-being at a reduced cost.
“Our Research and Development, Design and Production services have conceived and developed a totally unique mobility solution. AUTONOM CAB is leading edge in terms of how it is used and the features it offers. Shared or private, the cab is a new, autonomous, and personalized mobility service, revolutionizing both habits and technology.”
The Technical Side Of The NAVYA AUTONOM CAB
This self-driving taxi seats 6 and has a very modest electric motor pushing out a peak of 25 kW using a LiFeP04 battery pack rated at 22 kWh, 32A. There’s also an option for a 33 kWh version. The AUTONOM CAB measures 4.65 meters (15.25 ft) in length, 1.95 meters (6.39 ft) wide, and 2.10 meters (6.88 ft) tall, perfect for city hopping. It weighs 2,000 kilos (4,409 lb), with a gross weight of 2,500 kilos (5,512 lb). Its normal operating speed is 30 MPH and can dash up to 55 MPH if needed. It can drive around for 10 hours.
All of this rests on a composite body with electric sliding doors. The infotainment systems is an LED panel with stretched TFT screen. The audio is handled by 2 speakers cranking 4x 80 amps.
The autonomous part relies on an array of three 360° multi-layer Lidars 1, seven 145° multi-layer Lidars 2, six cameras, four radars, and a GPS RTK. And in case you freak out, there are 2 emergency stop buttons.
That last part of emergency stops is important since so not too many AV companies talk about what happens if there is a need for an emergency stop. [Editor’s note: However, this is also a topic of debate, as I just learned at The Mobility Conference yesterday. Including such an option, humans will be inclined to press it when that’s not really needed, and perhaps when it shouldn’t be pressed. However, not including it could make people quite nervous and raise blood pressure, and, of course, there may actually be times when the passenger does not to hit the emergency stop option.]
Autonomous Taxi Cabs
NAVYA has already introduced its AV shuttle. It is more than just an AV company. It has a complete AV fleet operating system. The AUTONOM CAB aims for use in cities, airports, campuses, hospitals, theme parks, holiday shuttles, and, of course, taxis. The company wraps up all these segments with its LEAD system that manages its AUTONOM SHUTTLEs and AUTONOM CABs fleets, “wherever they are in the world.”
Images by Zach Shahan/CleanTechnica this past week at the World Future Energy Summit, part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
The NAVYA AUTONOM CAB Is ready, But Are You Ready For A Self-Driving Trip?
How will consumers react to AV cabs instead of traditional taxis and Lyft rides? Obviously, the younger generation will have no problem stepping into self-driving cabs*. We see an older generation still favoring manual driving, or at the very least, human input with a relative amount of automation. It will be fun to follow how the industry develops and how people welcome or shun self-driving fleets in the near future.
*Editor’s note: I assume aside from the matter of habits, young people may prefer not having to interact with another human, while the elderly may prefer the sense of security and the ability to ask questions or converse with a human driver.