Sadly, my experience using Fetch in central Milton Keynes won’t quite be the reality because, while the service is in development, the remote controlled Kia needs to have a safety driver. Today, Navid Nourani, co-founder of Kaveh, is that person. Like Kaveh, he’s a smart guy with a PhD in robotics (Kaveh studied engineering at Cambridge) and a passion for mobility.
Initially, the duo wanted to help companies accelerate the development of their autonomous technology, but as they delved deeper into the subject, they began to realize that remote control could be part of the solution while being a development bed for their own standalone technology.
But for two roof-mounted antennas that send and receive the crucial 4G Wi-Fi their technology relies on, the Niro looks completely standard from the outside. No bulky lidar scanners here. However, once I’m settled in the passenger seat, I’m aware of more kit – in particular, the triangular-shaped camera on the windscreen. (It’s actually a small camera with a sunscreen so the image the driver sees from a distance stays clear.)
Additionally, there are two other small cameras on the side windows and one on the rear window. Viewed by the driver from a distance, they provide a 360 degree image of the Niro’s surroundings. I wonder where the rest of the kit is, but other than a small computer under my seat and a few control boxes on the floor behind, all of which will be miniaturized for production, that’s it. The combination of the window-mounted cameras and the car’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) is enough to allow remote control of the Niro.