A race track isn't necessarily the place you'd expect to find the latest in zero-emissions transit, but that's exactly what you'll find at Circuit of the Americas in Texas.

Called Navia and built by French firm Induct, the small electric shuttle bus carries visitors around the circuit, with no need for either a driver, nor wired charging.

At first it looks like a cross between a golf cart and the baskets you find on a big wheel at a fairground. Passengers sit facing each other inside, the vehicle's wheels and drivetrain pushed to the ends to maximize space.

It's only then you notice there's no driving seat, and therefore no driver--the Navia works using pre-programmed routes, which users can select from to reach their destination.

As you'll note in the video above, this sometimes involves working around pedestrians. To avoid any nasty accidents at the Navia's 12.5 mph top speed, lasers and sensors help it avoid obstacles, and can bring the car to a halt if its path is blocked.

Induct says it's the first such vehicle that needs no dedicated infrasctructure, such as rails, for it to work. This even applies when it needs charging, which the Navia can do itself, unaided, at a docking station nearby. It charges using inductive technology, so no operator is required to plug and unplug it.

The use of four directional wheels means it can also travel in either direction--so even if it is constrained by a narrow road or similar, there's no need for it to turn around.

It won't be replacing personal road transport just yet, but the technology it uses might become more familiar as driverless technology takes off. And for the time being, you might even see it ferrying passengers at a race track near you...

[Hat tip: Nelson Ireson]


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