A Much Different World- Did Coronavirus Speed-Up the Adoption of Driverless Technology?
When the coronavirus pandemic hit countries across the globe, governments were left with no choice but to impose restrictions and lockdowns, while looking towards technology to provide alternative solutions for the rising problems at hand. As such, many businesses transferred their operations online, introduced a work-from-home protocol, while schools and colleges transformed their entire curriculum to make it e-learning friendly.
By and large, we dealt with the pandemic with every technological recourse that is available to mankind and came out on the other side in a much different and technologically advanced world.
What’s happening in China?
Recently, we heard a pretty interesting claim from Neolix, one of the leading manufacturers of Robo-delivery trucks. A representative of the company boasted of the soaring rates of self-driving and autonomous vehicle sales due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since the roads have been clear for the past couple of months, customers have been able to realize the benefits of driverless vehicles.
In conversation with Automotive News, the Beijing-based company revealed that it had sold 200 autonomous vehicles in the past two months, whereas only 159 were sold in the eight months prior to the pandemic. As of 11 March, the company also announced that it had raised $29 million since the onset of COVID-19, which would be redirected to fund mass production of the vehicles.
It looks like not all businesses were affected by the global disaster, after all!
What do these vehicles look like?
Interestingly enough, IEEE Spectrum used the word “adorable” to describe these types of cars. Granted, they were talking about the creation by Nuro, a US-based autonomous vehicle firm that serves as one of the biggest rivals to Neolix, but if you ask us, all these cars look more or less the same- equally adorable and efficient!
Other features of the bot include-
Cameras- Sometimes, even a dozen of these are added to a bot since they enable them to identify road signs and lanes. Yes, they have the same difficulty that we do in rainy weather, as they are highly dependent on the sun (or our headlights) to see clearly.
Lidars- This is the object that is often found spinning inside the bot, which is responsible for mapping out the surroundings of the bot through millions of laser pulses per second. Neolix’s bot specifically hosts one single-channel lidar and three 16-channel lidar laser sensors.
Radars- This senses the speed and distance of vehicles on the road, without which the bot would probably be crashing into anything and anyone on the street. No matter how foul the weather may get, the radars can accurately judge the speed of every vehicle that hits it.
Does the future look promising?
Neolix seems to be quite confident that once the pandemic ceases to exist, the new trend of Robo-delivery will continue to persist due to its convenient and useful nature. There’s an ongoing buzz about how the post-COVID world will be entirely different and that we’re on the brink of a completely new future. Perhaps the normalization of robots delivering our groceries and take-outs might just be a big part of that world.
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