French Driverless EV Manufacturer To Set Up Shop In Adelaide

Navya ARMA - autonomous electric shuttle

South Australia’s copped some flack for its passion for wind energy, solar power and battery storage, but its renewables focus is attracting interest from high-tech companies such as France’s Navya, which produces autonomous electric vehicles.

The South Australian Government announced yesterday it had laid down the groundwork with Navya for the company to establish its Asia-Pacific manufacturing facility in Adelaide; adding to its operations in Lyon, France and Detroit, Michigan.

Navya’s flagship vehicle is the ARMA shuttle.

Electric, 100 per cent driverless and able to carry up to 15 people, ARMA’s batteries can be recharged by induction and last from 5 to 13 hours; depending on how it’s operated and traffic conditions. Currently the vehicle has a top safe operating speed of 45 km/hr according to Navya.

ARMA’s ability to navigate without a human driver is through the use of LIDAR sensors,  which use lasers1 for mapping the environment, Real Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS, a tricked-out odometer and stereovision cameras.

It seems all high-tech gadgets/vehicles are accompanied by promotional videos with annoying2 music these days, and ARMA is no exception – here it is.

Navya’s arrival will be quite a coup for South Australia; and very welcome after losing much of its auto manufacturing industry in recent years – an electric phoenix may be rising from the internal combustion ashes (and emissions).

“Establishing a driverless car vehicle operation here in South Australia is the perfect bridge connecting our past in traditional vehicle manufacturing and our future in advanced manufacturing in a clean, carbon neutral environment,” said SA Premier Jay Weatherill.

A report from Intel (PDF) in June forecasts the economic opportunity associated with autonomous vehicles will grow from US $800 billion to $7 trillion by 2050 – and much of that will be in the Asia-Pacific.

Navya found South Australia particularly attractive given the state’s carbon neutral and renewable energy focus, which aligns with the company’s interests. South Australia was also the first state in Australia to permit driverless vehicle testing on Australian roads.

There’s no word yet as to when we’ll see Navya’s production boots on the ground in Adelaide – or ARMAs on its roads.

Footnotes

  1. If I were Ronald, I would be compelled to insert a Dr. Evil YouTube clip or meme at this point – but as I’m not, I have refrained – sort of.
  2. Perhaps I’m just getting old and crotchety
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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