CES: Induct claims 1st fully electric, self-driving shuttle in US

-January 06, 2014

Although autonomous privately owned cars and trucks are not yet fully ready or approved for streets, highways and super-highways, Induct has developed an intelligent, electric and driverless shuttle, called Navia, in the U.S. I will be attending a live demonstration of the vehicle at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, this week on Thursday January 9. I will let you know how the experience goes. I’m excited to talk to designers about more tech details. (See "The birth of Induct’s self-driving shuttle")

Induct Technology was founded in 2004 near Paris, France as a robotic auto specialist focused on the development of embedded geo-location systems and wireless communications solutions. The company introduced Navia in 2011.

This company was the only European company invited to participate in the DARPA Grand Challenge race for autonomous vehicles in the Mojave Desert.  They are fully dedicated to the development of high-tech and environmentally friendly mobility management products and the associated services for operating commercial vehicle fleets.

The guidance technique utilizes advanced robotics, laser mapping technology and sensors that detect the vehicle's acceleration and rotation, the vehicle electronics instantly calculates its position, nearby obstacles, route and distance traveled in real time.

When passengers board the vehicle they find a touchscreen displaying the various stop choices. They select their destination on the screen, and the shuttle automatically drives there. The shuttle can be set on a specific schedule and route, or can travel where needed, when needed, letting users summon the shuttle with their smartphones. The company claims that this is also the only driverless shuttle that needs no special infrastructure such as rails, or a designated path so it can work on any kind of site.

Check out this video, s'il vous plait:

I like the fact that the vehicle is environmentally friendly, it is fully electric with no emissions and can travel at 12.5 mph with as many as eight passengers.

The vehicle is recharged by induction – using magnetic fields – without the need for cables or human intervention, allowing it to be self-sufficient and run 24 hours a day.

The technology

Navia uses two different types of technologies for location:

The first is GPS technologies and sensors that detect the vehicle’s acceleration (accelerometers) and its rotation (gyroscopes) around all three axes (to and fro, side to side, up and down), enabling it to instantly calculate its position, route and distance traveled since the last known position.

The second technology is four laser-based LIDAR units (LIght Detection And Ranging) with a 200 yard range sweep the area ahead and provide a precise reading of the space around it, accurate to one centimeter. From this data the system generates a map of the immediate surroundings which it uses to steer the vehicle’s course. Obstacles are detected by combining the LIDAR information with a system of optical cameras that give stereo vision in the same way as a person’s two eyes.

Here is the Navia laser view in the following video:


The slight difference in the two cameras’ viewpoints allows depth mapping and 3D perception of the scene under observation. This technology has been developed entirely by Induct, and is known as “SLAM MOT” (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping & Multi Object Tracking).

Navia analyzes all this information – location, route, and obstacles – in real time.

Cost to run and testing

The company claims that the average cost of running a regular shuttle service with driver in the United States is $200.000 per year.

The vehicle has already been deployed with partnerships in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Singapore, and is said to navigate streets congested with pedestrians easily and safely without the use of a rail or designated path.

The Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne campus has been using the shuttle for about a year now and is very pleased with its operation and efficiency. Other users are British company Oxis Energy, a pioneer in lithium sulfur polymer technology; the Culham Science Centre, a high-security industry park run by the United Kingdom Atomic energy Authority; and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

For more information on Navia, visit the Induct website.

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