Transport minister Blade Nzimande opened the 2019 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Conference this week, and gave a first glimpse of what a driverless South Africa could look like.
During his visit to the conference at Sun City in the North West province, Nzimande and the president of the FIA, Jean Todt, took the opportunity to travel on the Navya Autonomous Electric Shuttle – the first autonomous, driverless, fully electric, commercially available vehicle to be demonstrated in South Africa.
With neither a steering wheel nor pedals, the Navya Autonomous Electric Shuttle uses effective guidance and detection systems that combine various types of advanced technology.
Data from sensors, cameras, GPS and odometry is merged and interpreted by deep learning programmes onboard the vehicle. Through this technology, the Navya Autonomous Electric Shuttle moves about efficiently and makes proficient decisions without any driver.
“There are huge challenges in terms of mobility in our country and, certainly, this demonstration shows us what is out there right now,” said Sikkie Kajee, chairman of the Automobile Association of South Africa (AASA).
“It may not necessarily be technology which will be implemented throughout South Africa tomorrow, but it is shining a light on where we think we need to be going.
“Given the problems on our roads and the lack of reliable, affordable public transport, we need to be looking at innovative developments such as those offered by the Navya Autonomous Electric Shuttle, which can provide answers. ”