Buses and trains are great ways for big groups of people to get to work in the morning, but they aren’t ideally suited to every single public transportation situation. Airports, shopping malls and large private campuses have their own unique transportation issues, and while some methods exist to address these issues, a French firm called Induct has a new idea. Their product is called the Navia and it is an eight-passenger electric vehicle that can drive itself at speeds of up to 12.5 miles per hour. GPS, gyroscopes, laser range finders and cameras all help guide the Navia on its route, all while safely avoiding pedestrians. Power comes from lithium-polymer batteries, which receive a charging boost via a wireless induction chargers located at stops along the vehicle’s route.
Vehicles like golf cars have served a similar function in quite a few locations up until now, and although these are quite good, the Navia has some advantages. It can move more people around and can do so more or less continuously. It can serve the same function as a bus but in areas where using an actual bus would be impossible. Prices haven’t been disclosed, but all of the autonomous driving equipment is sure to make it more expensive than a golf cart. However, this will likely be offset by the lack of a need for a driver. It’s really quite a highly practical solution, and Induct has already received their first order from the Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). Partnerships have also been planned with the University of West Florida and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.