Hitachi’s Self-driving Robotic Car ROPITS

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Hitachi Unveils ROPITS -  Tiny Car Drives Itself

Hitachi Ltd. has recently revealed a driver-less tiny electric car to assist elderly citizens & citizens with mobility disabilities. This one seater self-driving robotic car uses GPS system to carry its single passenger. Hitachi displayed a prototype of this car recently in the Tsukuba city to demonstrate how this car is designed to automatically pick up & drop passengers. Hitachi has named this self-driven car ROPITS or Robot for Personal Intelligent Transport System.

Many automakers and researchers are working on autonomous vehicles technology. Google car is a great example of this. This self driven car ROPITS by Hitachi resembles to Toyota i-Road which was revealed recently at Geneva Motor Show. Both these car prototypes from Toyota and Google promise fewer accidents, safe highway driving and less traffic jam. However, this tiny car by Hitachi doesn’t require direct control by the passenger.

This narrow car is designed to aid the needs of aging population as well as physically challenged individuals in Japan. The course & transport time of ROPITS can be programmed through map-loaded tablet computer. This is the unique factor of this self driven car. ROPITS can be used on sidewalks. Once the passenger uses the tablet PC to summon the car, it reaches to the location of the passenger. And passengers just need to indicate their destination using a touch screen. ROPITS is ideally suitable to move in & out of pedestrian spaces and even in crowded streets.

This tiny car ROPITS is equipped with a laser distance sensor, special stereoscopic camera & laser ranger finder. An electric engine of ROPITS is capable of speeding up to 6 miles /hr. It maps a route of passenger’s location with the help of an array of back & front mounted gyro sensors as well as a GPS. It also detects uneven sections, potholes, pedestrians and bumps through an enhanced three-dimensional map. Onboard sensors of ROPITS build a 3-D geometric map using accurate altitude information.

The company relies on Real Time Kinematic GPS as well as Geographical Survey Institute of Japan for this information. ROPITS uses the various GPS information and the laser ranger finders provided in its roof to detect the current location of the person as well as the obstacles in the way.

Hitachi announced the research of ROPITS in Japan this month. The company conducted a test in Tsukuba (Ibaraki Prefecture) within a roughly 18 km wide sidewalk. And ROPITS proved that it is already capable of driving itself within that particular random point on a map, though it is still in development stage. This tiny car is in front of you by just tapping on tablet PC or smart phone or tablet. Though this car is designed for elderly and disabled persons, the company has plans to use the same technology for other services like transporting goods. You can watch this tiny self driven car By Hitachi at Robotics & Mechatronics Conference, Japan in the month of May.

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