Very expensive because of the technology it requires, the private autonomous car is not for now. On the other hand, the concept of an autonomous electric vehicle with limited speed, shared and versatile, and therefore capable of transporting passengers but also parcels in urban areas, could find its economic model more quickly. It is with this in mind that Citroën has designed its Citroën Skate, an autonomous electric chassis with 4 spherical wheels that slides under modules designed by partners to take them on dedicated lanes through towns, at 25 km/h.
Rolling office or gym
Billboard giant JCDecaux has offered a sort of VTC that can accommodate up to five people, and Pullman hotels a rolling gym. Delivery of meals, parcels, airport transport, mobile teleworking room: the designers of the chevron brand have imagined around sixty other applications for this skateboard, about forty centimeters high. Spherical wheels, also offered by Goodyear as a prototype, should eventually allow it to run diagonally and reduce maintenance requirements.
If the vehicle is not likely to hit the streets for a few years, the idea is to “start the discussion” and respond to societal trends, according to the partners. “The challenge for us is to find the right balance between technology and infrastructure” at a “reasonable” cost, said Christine Hansen, Citroën’s chief strategy officer. “Autonomy will be very expensive on a private vehicle: shared use makes it possible in the near future. “We are also reinventing what you are going to do during transport time,” underlined Pierre Leclerq, Citroën design director, with great freedom in terms of interior design. “Mobility must remain a pleasure and not a movement bumper to bumper. “You could imagine a fleet of skateboards operated by Stellantis,” with modules managed by partners, Ms. Hansen said.
The possibility of the quack
Many manufacturers are developing these autonomous and shared mobility solutions in the face of the possible disappearance of individual cars in the densest areas. In Japan, Nissan has been testing a robotaxis service called Easy Ride since 2018. Toyota is also testing its autonomous and versatile e-Palette shuttles, with a serious quack this summer during the Tokyo Olympics: a shuttle collided with a visually impaired judoka, slightly injuring him. In the United States, a subsidiary of General Motors, Cruise, announced in June that its Origin shuttle was entering pre-production. Waymo, the autonomous vehicle project developed by Alphabet, the parent company of Google, offers a driverless robotaxis service in Phoenix, Arizona, for a limited number of customers, and in San Francisco for its employees.