The Autonomous Vehicles
VisLab selected small and electric vehicles for the VIAC event since these characteristics match the kind of vehicles that are generally used downtown. The main idea is to test the technology on an extreme trip with this kind of urban vehicles; at the end the very same technology will be ported for urban applications.
The original vehicles are produced by Piaggio, an Italian company very well known worldwide for fashionable scooters and also specialized in commercial vehicles. The base vehicle is an Electric Porter Piaggio (named ‘zero emissions’) featuring electric propulsion; the autonomous driving technology installed on this vehicle is not affecting its performance since the sensors, the processing systems, and the actuation devices are all powered by solar energy, thus they do not drain anything from the original batteries.
This is to show that in principle the autonomous pilot can be installed without altering engine performance and without any requirement on additional power, being self-sustained. In the case of these vehicles, being prepared also for a media show, all the sensors are pretty visible, but sensors and processing can be integrated in a more sophisticated way, as we did for BRAiVE.