NAVYA, a French leader in autonomous vehicle technology and innovation, garnered much attention at the 2017 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Expo with its recently-developed ARMA shuttle, an entirely autonomous and electric solution that focuses on first-and-last-mile transportation needs. While hearing about its details and specifications from NAVYA team members, interested expo-goers were whisked around—without a driver, of course—a closed and predetermined track within Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center. The demonstration even piqued the interest of Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, who rode the shuttle while visiting the annual transportation conference. Although there is much debate about the extent to which driverless vehicles will replace more traditional cars, technologies like NAVYA’s may play a crucial role in filling specific transit gaps worldwide.
With operations in, among other places, France, the United States, Switzerland, Qatar, and Singapore, NAVYA hopes to meet the challenges of increasing urbanization by improving first-and-last-mile service and transport connectivity. The company has deployed approximately 50 of its shuttles to cities and private sites across the globe.
Accommodating a total of fifteen passengers—eleven seated and four standing—the ARMA boasts an average autonomy of nine hours and operating and maximum speeds of approximately 16 and 26 miles per hour, respectively. The shuttle employs four layers of sensors—GPS localization, LIDAR sensors for obstacle detection, odometry, and cameras—to safely navigate routes.
Although transit experts disagree as to whether autonomous vehicles will soon dominate the roads—while some predict their rapid and massive expansion, others question drivers’ willingness to entirely forego conventional cars—it is difficult to ignore the potential of NAVYA’s shuttles and other comparable offerings. Given its focus on first-and-last-mile transportation, these autonomous products may prove useful as transit leaders focus on boosting transportation connectivity in increasingly multi-modal systems.