Paris – After deploying driverless shuttles all over the world, the Lyon-based start-up Navya wants to revolutionise urban transport via autonomous taxis with 100% electric propulsion, full of artificial intelligence.
On Tuesday evening, in the Cité du cinéma (north of Paris), more than a hundred people gathered to attend the presentation of a new kind of taxi.
Called +Autonom Cab+, this hyper-connected and futuristic taxi can accommodate up to six people. On board, they can make an interactive tour of the city, order movie or museum tickets or compose the playlist of their choice. All this without having to speak to a driver, because the vehicle is completely autonomous.
“We are the first to market a robot-taxi type vehicle without steering wheel and pedals, nobody does that in the world,”said Christophe Sapet, Navya’s president.
Robot taxis, which are in the interest of several manufacturers, including the French Renault, are one of the revolutions promised to the individual transport sector. According to a study by Roland Berger, such machines could even account for 40% of the world automotive sector’s profits in 2030.
Navya’s trademark, created in 2014: a concentrate of technologies to improve public transport in urban and peripheral areas.
Between 25 and 45 km/h –
“Autonom Cab” wants to take its eldest example on its “Autonom Shuttle”, formerly “Arma”, a small shuttle of 15 seats lined with cameras, radars, lidars and other sensors.
During the experimentation phase, the minibus managed to find its way. It is already operational in Lyon, in the Confluence district, and in La Défense near Paris recently. The journey continues outside France, as he also embarks on board Switzerland, the United States, Australia and Hong Kong.
Although it does not require any special infrastructure, it is nevertheless obliged to travel on pre-established routes, which is mandatory by regulation.
In total, more than 50 vehicles have been deployed and nearly 200,000 passengers transported to cities or private places (businesses, amusement parks, hotels, airports, etc.) for a unit price of around 230,000 euros.
“The vehicle doesn’t drive very fast” (between 25 and 45 km/h), concedes Mr. Sapet,”but people are satisfied”. The ecological dimension of these machines and the guarantee of their safety are important arguments,”he assures.
Serial entrepreneur “- Serial entrepreneur” –
The issue of relieving congestion in urban centres is also crucial, while according to UN forecasts, 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050, according to Navya’s president, who believes that”we can no longer continue like this”.
“Christophe Sapet has always been immersed in the automobile, coming from a family of dealers for more than 70 years.
“The knowledge of the vehicle and technology has given me a vision of what tomorrow’s transportation could be. Navya is an emanation of that reflection,”he says.
On the financing side, the start-up benefited from a €30 million capital raising after two years of existence, with the entry into its capital of the French Keolis (subsidiary of SNCF) and Valeo, as well as the qatari Group8.
With a turnover expected to exceed 10 million euros in 2017, the company hopes to accelerate the pace of growth, and is aiming to exceed 100 million euros by 2019.
The next step is to replicate the success of its shuttle with Autonom Cab, which will be presented at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next January, while the first deliveries are expected in the 3rd quarter of 2018. The robot-taxi should be tested in the streets of Paris next year.