Fri, Dec 16, 2016 - Page 12 News List

French driverless bus maker eyeing Kaohsiung

By Kuo Chia-erh  /  Staff reporter

Navya SAS, a French start-up that makes driverless buses, yesterday said it plans to launch shuttle services in Kaohsiung next year.

Company executives told a Taipei news conference that they are in talks with the Kaohsiung City Government, hoping to begin trial operation of its ARMA model in the Hamasen (哈瑪星) area during the EcoMobility World Festival in October next year.

ARMA is able to transport up to 15 passengers at a time at speeds up to 45kph, the executives said.

Autonomous vehicles offer a higher frequency of transportation service and can reduce travel time and costs, they said.

Navya has formed a partnership with a local firm, 7starlake Consultant Co Ltd (喜門史塔雷克), to promote and distribute its autonomous vehicles in Taiwan.

The Taiwanese firm also supplies computer systems to Navya.

“We need local partners to work on negotiations with local governments, as restrictions are different [in different countries],” Navya vice president Henri Coron said on the sidelines of the news conference.

At present, autonomous cars are not allowed on Taiwan’s streets.

“We are now planning to first promote driverless cars in industrial parks or airports to comply with legal requirements,” 7starlake general manager Martin Ting (丁彥允) told reporters.

Navya is considering introducing its autonomous buses to companies at Taichung Gateway Park (水湳經貿園區) and the Taoyuan Aerotropolis (桃園航空城), Ting said.

Driverless cars can provide low-cost shuttle services for commuters who work in industrial parks or airports, as vehicles equipped with artificial intelligence are able to detect obstacles on roads and determine the best routes to take, he said.

The two-year-old Navya develops driverless electric and robotic vehicles with the aim of optimizing travel on private sites, including urban areas, industrial sites and airports, the company’s Web site says.

Navya raised US$34 million in fresh funds in October, with the capital coming from two strategic partners: automotive parts group Valeo and public transportation provider Keolis.

It has launched shuttle services in France and Australia.

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