Ropits: a driverless car for short-distance transport

Fri, 2013-04-12 09:33 -- Liz Enbysk

Hitachi has launched a self-driving car for elderly and disabled drivers.

The Ropits – for Robot for Personal Intelligent Transport System -- was originally developed for short-range personal transport. Hitachi believes what it describes as its "specified arbitrary point autonomous pick-up and dropoff" technology could soon be used for automatic goods deliveries too. That means that a next-generation unmanned Ropit could be delivering groceries in your city.

Ropits is one of several approaches used by car makers to come up with autonomous vehicles capable of reducing accidents and easing traffic congestion.

The car is no racer. Its top speed is 4 mph, but if that proves a bit much under some circumstances drivers can override the system and manually control it with a joy stick in the event of an emergency.

Ropits is designed for use on pavement and footpaths, not roads. Its sensors and guidance systems can identify and avoid things like bumps, potholes and pedestrians. It is equipped with 3-D laser distance sensors and stereo cameras on the front of the car to see those obstructions. It also carries a GPS device. In addition it can change the height of its wheels when depth changes and includes a gyro sensor that keeps it upright on uneven ground.