French company Navya unveils driverless taxi in Paris

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Nov. 8, 2017 at 9:42 AM
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Nov. 8 (UPI) -- A driverless, 6-passenger "robotaxi" prototype capable of autonomously maneuvering the city streets was unveiled in Paris, French manufacturer Navya said.

The new taxi, priced at $290,000 and called the Autonom Cab, debuted Tuesday. It will be tested in the streets of Paris in several weeks before going on sale in the third quarter of 2018. About 30 vehicles have already been ordered.

The company enters a crowded field of manufacturers preparing to bring driverless cars to the market. General Motors is among several auto manufacturers working to develop the vehicles through its car-sharing Maven and driverless software maker Cruise Automation subsidiaries. Google's Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Waymo adapts Chrysler products for autonomous use and said this week it is test-driving its cars in Phoenix, Ariz. Navya SAS, though, builds entire vehicles, including all robotics and software, in-house.

"We're the first to conceive and manufacture a vehicle that is made to be fully autonomous, instead of adapting an existing car," Navya CEO Christophe Sapet said. "We want to be the first company to offer a full comprehensive line-up of autonomous vehicles."

Potential customers include ride-hailing operators like Uber Technologies, and car rental companies like Hertz or Avis, Sapet added.

Navya, headquartered near Lyon, has tested a 15-passenger vehicle in Paris' business district for several months, although the vehicle serves as a shuttle instead of a taxi. It has a target of 450 shuttles sold by the end of 2018 and has invested in a Michigan factory to produce them.

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