A driverless golf cart-like vehicle has hit the market and is already in use on some college campuses in Europe, including Oxford University.
The all-electric Navia looks like a golf cart and, with a maximum speed of 28 miles per hour but a recommended speed of about 12 mph, is typically used as a driverless shuttle service, according to a Motherboard report. Its battery can be recharged "unaided at a docking station," according to the Navia website, and "needs no special infrastructure such as rails, so it can work on any kind of site."
Those advantages make it perfect for other large campus settings, such as hospitals, airports, and amusement parks, which Navia is targeting, according to Motherboard. For those at a location where the shuttles are available, a mobile app allows them to both order a shuttle to pick them up and provide a destination.
A video shows it in action, which is pretty much what you’d expect a driverless golf cart to look like. The epic electronic music oddly paired with the video footage of an over-sized golf cart is just an added bonus of the video.
For businesses that would buy them, the advantages are clear – removing the driver from the shuttle process not only cuts costs, but eliminates a significant legal liability. I’m sure anyone injured in a driverless vehicle crash would have a lawsuit claim, but I have to assume an entirely driverless system will reduce that risk. Although I have to admit, I’m not convinced that the types of businesses that would need a shuttle service would think the Navia is worth its $250,000 price tag, especially considering that a lot of these customers would need several.
Although the Navia’s use case pales in comparison to the far-reaching objectives of Google’s autonomous vehicle efforts, how it fares in terms of both safety and convenience will likely play a role in the regulation of the technology in the U.S. If the Navia fails or encounters some kind of accident, driverless car proponents in the States are going to have a lot more trouble bringing the driverless car to market.