Welcome to the future!
The world’s first completely self-driving vehicle is now available for purchase. If you’ve got $250,000 laying around, you can be the proud owner of a Navia shuttle -- an eight passenger, fully electric, self-driving car produced by France-based robotics company Induct.
The car is capable of travelling up to 12.5 miles an hour and does not rely on any rails or predetermined paths to get from one place to another. Passengers simply punch in the location of where they wish to go and the Navia does the rest.
At a 12.5 mile-an-hour top speed, the Navia shuttle isn’t meant to be used on the open roads. But the car has excelled in testing as a shuttle. Induct envisions their car being used to take people around at places like airports, college campuses, and theme parks.
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"Navia is completely self-driving, 100 percent electric, emission free, safe and simple to use,” Induct CEO Piere Lefevre said. “It is the ideal solution for taking pedestrians that 'last mile' in city centers, industrial sites, theme parks, campuses, complexes and more."
The Navia is charged via induction using magnetic fields, so it is ready to be driven 24 hours a day. If Induct’s vision comes to fruition, the car will soon replace traditional bus shuttles and shuttle drivers across the country.
"The average cost of running a regular shuttle service with driver in the United States is $200.000 per year. With Navia, we are able to offer a safe, environmentally friendly solution and reduce the operational costs by 40 to 60 percent," Lefevre said.
If the Navia will truly be 40-60% cheaper than running a traditional shuttle, we can surely expect at least a few companies to try the car out. But who will be the losers if the shuttle really takes off and becomes widely used? Shuttle drivers. As we’ve seen many times before, new technology has a tendency to take away jobs once held by people. Manufacturing jobs and phone customer service positions are just two examples out of thousands of jobs in which a machine now does the work that a human used to do for pay. If the Navia is a success, thousands of shuttle drivers will be out of a job and looking for work.
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But hey, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there, right? That seems to be the prevailing wisdom for these types of predicaments. In the meantime, cool car, Induct. Something tells me Google and other tech giants aren’t far behind with their respective versions of the driverless vehicle. It may not be long until we’re all sleeping and watching movies during road trips while our cars happily hum us down the road with no need for our help.