A French-built driverless electric vehicle designed for ‘last-kilometre’ public transport is using advanced battery technology from Abingdon-based Oxis Energy, which hosted a demonstration this week.
Developed by Induct, a small firm dedicated to using new technologies for mobility, the eight-seater Cybergo people-carrier is intended to be a mass-transit shuttle that can operate autonomously without any special infrastructure, and can be accessed by a touch of a button on a mobile phone.
Cybergo is equipped with sensors including laser range finders and cameras that feed data into custom software for localisation, trajectory planning and decision-making. Its reaction time is about 10 times faster than a human being and it uses its lasers to see and anticipate cars, pedestrians or other obstacles that could get in the way. Using the cameras, it can read the road signs such as stops, lines on the ground and traffic lights.
One of the things that distinguishes Cybergo from other autonomous vehicles is its use of polymer lithium-sulphur battery technology. This addresses two significant concerns with other available batteries, says Oxis chief executive Huw Hampson Jones: the distance covered and the risk of fire. “Our battery is capable of storing large electrical charge in a cheap and safe way and is one of those significant inventions that will change the environment and the way in which we live.”
Induct foresees the vehicle being used in city centres, hospitals, university campuses and sporting venues, with as many shuttles as necessary being injected into the traffic flow based on projected demand from statistical analysis and sensors at regular stops.