ROPITS: Hitachi’s Single-Passenger Self-Driving Vehicle
The Japanese electronics giant Hitachi has addressed the major problem of the society, aging, and designed the world’s smallest car driven automatically by a robot. The Robot for Personal Intelligent Transport System (aka Ropits) is a single-passenger self-driving vehicle created to help enhance mobility for disabled or elderly people. The Ropits vehicle is not designated for roads, it travels on sidewalks with a maximum speed of 3.7 mph (5.9 km/h) and thus can navigate faster on its way to the destination without the interference of cars, buses or trucks. Entering your destination is as simple as tapping on a map displayed by an onboard tablet PC or your own mobile device. After hitting start, the passenger can sleep, read and enjoy the ride. The navigation system combines Real Time Kinematic GPS (RTK-GPS) with a stereo camera rig and multiple laser range finders to provide accuracy to within one meter (3 feet). The sensors provide a 360-degree three-dimensional image of the vehicle’s surroundings, giving it the capability to detect and react to oncoming pedestrians or unevenness in the ground surface. If a passenger feels like driving the vehicle themselves, there is a joystick which allows manual navigation. Hitachi reports that ROPITS could also be used as an autonomous delivery vehicle for a variety of services.