France’s Navia launches world’s first commercially available self-driving car [CES2014]


There are plenty of high-profile car makers and a good few tech companies working on getting driverless cars on the road, with a few even getting as far as conducting open road trials. While their efforts will undoubtedly play a massive part in the future of motoring, the honour of launching the world’s first self-driving car won’t go to any of them.

Instead, that particular honour goes to French company Navia whose eight seater shuttle launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week.

Anyone looking at the featured and sputtering at the thought of Navia’s creation potting along a road near you can relax. The electric shuttle will more likely be used in places like airports, university campuses and sports stadiums, kind of like a very intelligent golf cart.

With a maximum speed of around 20 km/h, the Navia uses onboard lasers and sensors that enable it to avoid obstacles in its path, or to stop if it detects a pedestrian. Routes meanwhile are determined using a touchscreen offering the various stops the shuttle goes to. Passengers select their destination on the screen, and the shuttle automatically sets off for it. Once there, the doors open to let passengers get off and on.

One application not mentioned by the manufacturer is for getting around the massive campuses that some tech companies have, although we can’t really imagine Google being thrilled at having a competitor’s technology on its home turf.



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