NEVS introduced its new mobility ecosystem, PONS. The company says that this is the first generation of autonomous vehicles with a connected user interface, adding that it could become the mobility solution for smart and sustainable cities. The self-driving vehicle Sango is the centerpiece of the system.
The company developed PONS because it says cities all over the world, clogged by pollution and traffic, want to do whatever they can to reduce the use of cars. It went on to say that there are 1.3 billion cars in the world today, but they are used only 5% of the time.
In parallel with the problem of pollution and traffic increasing, the company says that the development of technology for self-driving vehicles is "being pushed forward by niche software companies aiming to create more sustainable and traffic-optimized cities, while the car industry has yet to come up with vehicles, or hardware, adapted to the new conditions and opportunities that a self-driving world creates." The company says this likely is because a world with less traffic means fewer cars. NEVS says that it believes there is no reason to own an autonomous vehicle because it can pick the passengers up from wherever they are and take them wherever they want to go in the city. At the same time, users don't have to worry about parking, refueling, service, or running costs.
"We started by looking at why urban citizens have such strong desire to use their own cars rather than public transport, even if it means sitting in traffic jams for hours each day,” said Anna Haupt, VP Mobility Solutions at NEVS. “The reason is privacy—in your own car you feel safe, secure, relaxed, and free."
With that as a starting point, the company began to develop a completely new vehicle: Sango, which it says is ready to be integrated with any of the self-driving software systems available. For the launch in Sweden, the company has partnered with AutoX, a leading L4 autonomous driving technology company based in Silicon Valley and Shenzhen. Its AI Driver will be driving the Sango, chosen for its software-hardware integrated approach, safety and scalability, and ability to navigate in dense urban environments.
"We realized that, to be able to really benefit from autonomous technology, we had to design a vehicle that would not only be an enabler for shared vehicles, but also for shared rides,” said Haupt. “How do you combine privacy with sharing? That was one of the main challenges to overcome.”
Sango's flexible interior for passenger privacy
One solution is Sango's flexible interior which meets differing travel needs with three settings: private, social, and family. Depending on which setting is selected, up to six people can travel in the vehicle.
The vehicle has six movable seats in three rows and is fitted with privacy walls that can be raised and lowered. When raised, the vehicle is divided into four smaller areas for private journeys for up to four people. In social setting, the dividing walls are lowered to allow four people to travel together facing each other. In family setting, up to six people, seated in three rows, can travel comfortably together.
As well as the Sango vehicle, the PONS mobility system also comprises a user interface in the form of an app and a fleet management system which monitors and optimizes the fleet of vehicles when it is operating throughout the city.
“Getting from A to B with self-driving electric vehicles is not as far off as perhaps the car industry is implying,” said Haupt. “The era of one person per car and the era of owning a car are soon things of the past. A new era is coming, where cars are optimized for city mobility and better quality of life for the individual."
The next step for the company is a pilot in Stockholm where a fleet of around 10 autonomous robotaxis will be used by the public.
"Like other European cities, Stockholm faces challenges with vehicle emissions and traffic congestion,” commented Daniel Helldén from the Stockholm City Council Traffic Division. “Therefore, we welcome new ideas that share our vision of a greener city and less use of cars."
The first-built version of Sango is currently being test-driven at the NEVS’ site in Trollhättan together with functional tests of the PONS mobility ecosystem.
For more information, visit nevs.com.