The Czech Republic is not only known for fairy tale movies, beer and Škoda, but also has a vibrant tech scene. In the country’s second largest city, Brno, test drives with self-driving shuttles and delivery robots have been taking place at the exhibition center for several years. Marek Vanžura, head of the development group, gave me an insight into the project sponsored by SHOW – SHared automation Operating models for Worldwide adoption – which is developing this shuttle on the basis of Roboauto‘s autonomous driving technology stack.
Based on an Italian minibus from Esagono Energia,, a very flexible electric car platform, Vanžura’s team equipped the vehicle with 4 LIDARs, several cameras and radar. A digital navigation map with GPS-based traffic signs included, as well as object recognition such as pedestrians or vehicles, allows the Roboshuttle to drive around the exhibition grounds. At trade fair times, the vehicle chauffeurs visitors from the entrance to the individual exhibition halls.
Even though the vehicle can reach a top speed of up to 45km/h, at the exhibition center it chugs around at a maximum of 25km/h. A drive of about 16 minutes on the exhibition grounds shows how the situations are handled. A teleoperator watches the vehicle at all times and gives the OK for the vehicle to continue when it reaches a stop sign. via the built-in cameras, the teleoperator can see the surroundings and make sure it can continue safely. Otherwise, the vehicle drives independently.
Plans are in place to bring the vehicle onto public roads, and talks are also taking place with the administrations of some Czech cities. In addition to the Roboshuttle, work is also underway on last-mile delivery robots. On top of the Bring Auto electric skateboard platform, the same software is used as for the Roboshuttle.
Here is another video of the delivery robot being driven out of the hangar.
This article was also published in German.