France-based autonomous company, Navya is now well known for their point to point shuttle, but it seems they’re now ready for prime time. Hitting the streets of Paris, among pedestrians and other vehicles, is their new AUTONOM CAB. Get ready Uber, you just got some serious competition.
AUTONOM CAB, is the very first autonomous, personalized and shared mobility solution. This is level 5 autonomy, meaning that there is no steering wheel or pedals and relies completely on the on-board hardware (cameras and sensors) combined with their smart software to understand and navigate the ever changing world around it.
The AUTONOM CAB was designed to cater for a growing population density in the cities, with an estimated 70% of us living in major metro areas by the year 2050. Combine that with more than a billion cars on the road, you can see congestion is something that needs an aggressive solution. While delays on your way to work are annoying, there’s a far more serious reason to push towards our autonomous vehicle future and that’s safety.
The World Health Organization says more than 3 million deaths are caused every year around the world by car accidents. With the right technology, we can stop efforts to minimise this number, but actually eliminate it.
The plan initially is use the AUTONOM CAB in city centers and provide an answer to the demand for first and last mile service. To start with, the cab will be limited to 50km/hr which if you’ve ever driven in Paris, that’s more than adequate. Its expected this will rise over time as public confidence and the technology evolves, but its a decent start.
Passengers would access the service in much the same way you do to call an Uber, grab your phone, launch the app and the next available cab would come to pickup you and your friends, deliver you to your destination, all without human intervention. Should these become as prolific as Uber, its is possible vehicle ownership is reconsidered by those in the serviceable zone. That relies on a couple of key elements. Availability, price and service quality.
In terms of service quality, something we enjoy about Uber is the required cleanliness and there’s not a bus or public transport vehicle that comes close. For this reason, Navya will have to have plans to service and clean the vehicles regularly, because, well, humans are humans.
Naturally to deliver on the autonomous promise, Navya have clearly invested in their technology stack. On-board the AUTONOM CAB is one of the most complete sensor architectures on the market. There’s a massive 10 Lidar sensors, 6 cameras, 4 radars, 2 GNSS antennae and 1 inertial measurement unit (IMU). These sensors provide at least a triple redundancy across all functions,
guaranteeing exceptional reliability. That means this isn’t as good as a human, or a little bit better, its multiple times better than humans at understanding the environment around it and reacting safely.
Cameras analyze the vehicle’s surroundings, in particular road signs and traffic lights. Thanks to “deep-learning” algorithms, the cameras detect and categorize obstacles.
10 Lidar Sensors
Using laser technology to measure distance, Lidar sensors perceive the vehicle’s surroundings in three dimensions. They ensure detection of obstacles and calculate the vehicle’s precise positioning thanks to 3D-mapping. AUTONOM CAB uses the world’s two best types of Lidar technology.
3 VLP Lidars from Velodyne provide 360° peripheral vision.
7 SCALA Lidars from Valeo are capable of seeing at distances greater than 200 meters.
2 GNSS Antennae
GNSS antennae are linked to a GNSS RTK system that provides precise positioning, accurate to the nearest centimeter.
Radars determine the position and speed of nearby objects. They ensure long-distance vision.
4 odometry sensors
The odometry sensor estimates and confirms the vehicle’s position and speed whilst moving.
The IMU measures vehicle accelerations and rotations, thereby allowing the vehicle to confirm positioning information and improve precision.
AUTONOM CAB comes equipped with a V2X (OBU) device enabling it to interconnect with all types of urban infrastructure, particularly traffic lights.
The vehicle is equipped with a MODEM meaning that it can communicate with the NAVYA supervision center (even though the vehicle does not need to be connected permanently).
Its only when you understand that level of technology investment and inclusion with each vehicle, that you can appreciate how the company has been able to beat major manufacturers to market with a level 5 vehicle.
The AUTONOM CAB is a 2 wheel drive, all-electric vehicle with a 15kw engine. That may not sound like much, but its maximum speed is actually 90km/hr (it will be limited to 50). The the cab is powered by a PACK LiFePO4 battery, which comes in 2 sizes, 22 or 33Kwh. With a fast charger, it takes 5 hours to recharge to 90%, so its definitely an overnight job, definitely not competing with Tesla Superchargers in a recharge race.
Navya say the cab is good for 10 hours of autonomous operation. After that, it’ll return itself to a recharge station. The AUTONOM CAB is 4.65m long, 1.95m wide, 2.1m tall and weighs in at 2000kg empty weight and 2500kg gross weight, which to be honest, isn’t bad for what it can offer.
Christophe Sapet, NAVYA CEO says,
“At NAVYA, we use our passion for new technology in our battle to meet the challenges of urban mobility. With the development of our new transportation solutions that are autonomous, driverless and electric, day after day we are revolutionizing the idea of mobility in cities and on private sites.
We must create new features and ways of using transportation to meet mobility’s new challenges, so that we have a complete solution to offer our clients. Shared or private, this new fluid, continuous and effective transportation service meets traveler expectations before, during and after each trip.
Thanks to its AUTONOM range, NAVYA is able to offer a unique, effective and smooth mobility experience for the first and last mile.
Imagine what cities would be like if there were nothing but AUTONOMS running on the road. No more traffic jams or parking problems, fewer accidents and less pollution. Cities where people would once again be free to choose exactly how they want to get around and they could do this in a more fluid manner! ”
Now check out their launch video of the AUTONOM CAB driving itself around the streets of Paris. Instead of seeing a driver through the front window, instead you see the back of the rear-facing seats, which is certainly something other drivers will have to get used to.
At the heart of it, AUTONOM CAB provides an intelligent transport service for individual trips in urban centers. Able to carry 1 to 6 passengers, AUTONOM CAB is a fluid, continuous and effective solution that answers user expectations in terms of service before, during and after their trip. Navya say they’ll offer it as either a private or shared service – we’re assuming shared is cheaper. As you’d expect from a modern, forward-leaning vehicle, passengers can work, or be entertained during their trips, thanks to their responsibility of being a driver and paying attention to the road being removed. You also get to choose the playlist, which we assume works on a first-in-first-DJ principle.
This is a positive step forward for the industry and international eyes will be watching this very closely. I just hope they bring it to Australia, sooner, rather than later.
For more information, head to http://navya.tech/