Would you ever climb inside a shuttle with no driver?
Well in 3 months you will be able to do just that. HMI Technologies is in partnership with Christchurch Airport, and with the support of the Christchurch City Council, announced on January 26th that they will be trialing New Zealand's first autonomous electric vehicle.
If you've read any of my blog posts you will quickly understand that I'm a huge fan, HUGE, of autonomous transportation. So when I heard last week there is a trial of a completely driverless shuttle not more than 1 km from my office, I was super excited.
Firstly a few facts
There is no driver.
There is no steering wheel.
No brake pedal!!!
The shuttle uses GPS, electronic curb sensors and other technology.
It doesn't require lane lines to make its way.
Passengers push a button at a marked stop to board it and to get off.
Top speed 45 km/h.
Maximum passengers 15.
The vehicles have a range of about 144 km for each electric charge and take about five to eight hours to recharge
If all goes to plan we could see as many as 5 shuttles transporting passengers around the Christchurch Airport vicinity in 3 months.
The company behind the technology that powers these fantastic shuttles is France's Navya Arma. Navya launched their first shuttle in October 2015.
Navya first began testing their shuttle at MCity, the University of Michigan's simulated city for testing autonomous vehicles. Launched in 2015 by the University of Michigan, MCity is a 10 million dollar project that sits on a 4km² site on the University's North Campus made up of a network of streets and roads, mobile building facades, bridges, reduced speed zones and even dual carriageways, specifically designed for testing connected, automated and autonomous cars.
Navya announced on Jan 12, 2017, that they are running a 10 day pilot programme with the City of Las Vegas, where high and low rollers alike are climbing aboard what officials call the first driverless electric shuttle operating on a public U.S. street. The 10 day pilot programme carries 12 passengers.
Navya said it has shuttles in use in France, Australia, Switzerland and other countries that have carried more than 100,000 passengers in more than a year of service.
It is a really exciting time for Christchurch as it leads the way with future technology in New Zealand. The Martin Jetpack is another example of a Christchurch company pushing bleeding edge technology and trying to reshape our lives. It makes me really proud to hear of local companies pushing the envelope and looking to disrupt industry. Congratulations Christchurch Airport and I wish you all the best with your trial.