Navya, a French company known for its self-driving shuttles, has taken the next step in autonomous vehicles by introducing a self-driving cab.
At a splashy even in Paris, the company rolled out the Autonum Cab, a Level 4 autonomous vehicle designed without any interior features that would allow a human driver to take control. In other words, there is no steering wheel, mirrors, or brakes.
The company has been testing these vehicles on the streets of Paris and says it is ready to start shipping them. That would seem to put it one step ahead of Alphabet’s self-driving car unit, Waymo, which just announced testing of its own taxi service. Unlike Waymo, Navya wouldn’t operate the actual service, but rather wants to sell the taxis to local partners who would oversee the transportation network.
Still, the twin announcements are the latest reminder that vehicle autonomy is racing ahead further and faster than many would have predicted just a few years ago.
“Since its creation, Navya has been listening to cities and the mobility market,” said CEO Christophe Sapet, in a statement. “Today, it is clear that the status of the individual car has changed, especially among younger generations. Fewer and fewer young people have their driving license and [they] are less attached to the concept of an individual vehicle. What they want is mobility solutions that are operational 24/7, guaranteeing their safety and well-being at a reduced cost of use.”
— Peter Sorgenfrei (@psorgenfrei) November 8, 2017
With Level 5 being the highest autonomous driving level, the Autonum Cab comes close, at Level 4. It includes 10 lidar units, multiple radars and cameras, and a mapping tool that Navya build in-house. The cab has room for up to six people.
Beyond just the wonder if being in a self-driving vehicle, Navya has also started thinking about how to leverage the experience for passengers. The new vehicle will be equipped with a connected platform that allows passengers to request a cultural tour of the city, select a preferred music playlist, or purchase tickets to various cultural attractions.
The company said it has already signed several partnerships with transportation companies, such Paris-based Keolis and the Royal Automotive Club in Australia. Navya plans to announce more partnerships early next year.