UK start-up StreetDrone has released its first autonomous vehicle, an affordable platform designed to be used as a testbed by student engineers.
StreetDrone One, which has been developed by a team of ex-F1 engineers, is based on the Renault Twizy electric vehicle. According to its creators, it will help address the gap in autonomous research that is opening up between industry and academia due to the costs. The vehicle, which will be priced at £49,500, will enable young engineers to test existing software as well as designing their own.
“What makes StreetDrone One so unique is that it allows universities to focus on their specific area of interest in the self-driving market and customise the testbed to their requirements,” said Mark Preston, founder and CEO of StreetDrone.
“This significantly reduces the complexity of research and saves both time and money, allowing every engineering student to become a part of the autonomous revolution.”
Australian-born Watson (Pictured left Credit: ApexRacingPR via CC) has experience working in Formula 1 with McLaren, Arrows and Super Aguri, and is the current team principal of Chinese Formula E team Techeetah. By democratising the development of autonomous vehicles, he believes the technology can evolve more rapidly, and the skills of the next generation of engineers can be enhanced in the process.
“We’re using F1 technology to gain new insights into how we can make autonomous cars safer, more efficient and more reliable, while putting them to the test in real-world conditions on the roads,” he said.
As well as vehicle testbeds, StreetDrone will offer support to universities and students to help them better interpret the data and guide their research towards commercial applications.
“This is a very fragmented marketplace and we’re trying to build a suite of standardised tools so that universities can meet the growing demand for autonomous products,” said Mike Potts, managing director of StreetDrone. “This is a new but very lucrative industry, and StreetDrone One can help talented engineers to hone their skills in this exciting new field.”
Deliveries of the vehicle are expected to get underway before the end of the year.