French Startup Navya to Build Autonomous Shuttle Buses in Michigan
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French Startup Navya to Build Autonomous Shuttle Buses in Michigan

The 20,000-square-foot plant will produce the Arma, a driverless electric shuttle vehicle designed for “first- and last-mile transportation.”

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Navya, a French startup that has developed a fully autonomous shuttle bus, said it will establish a manufacturing facility in Saline, Mich.

The 20,000-square-foot plant will produce the Arma, a driverless electric shuttle vehicle designed for “first- and last-mile transportation.” Navya introduced the shuttle bus in October 2015.

The company said it plans to build 25 Arma vehicles by the end of 2017.

“We at Navya could not be more pleased to call Saline, Mich., home to our first assembly plant in North America,” Navya CEO Christophe Sapet said. “As the greater Ann Arbor area continues to establish itself as a hub for autonomous vehicle development, we feel it’s the perfect location for us. Strong government and community support for mobility initiatives combined with an excellent talent pool provide the ideal environment for our expansion in North America.”

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The Arma is designed to carry up to 15 people, and has a top speed of 28 mph, although it typically travels at 15 mph because of the nature of its routes. Navya markets the vehicle as a supplement to public transit for distances that are too short for driving and too long for walking.

“The shuttle is equipped with a multitude of sensor technology to provide 3-D vision that enables it to map out the environment, detect obstacles in its path and identify traffic and road signs,” the company explains.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. provided a $435,000 grant for the project, which is expected to create 50 jobs.

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