Fisker Orbit autonomous shuttle due in ‘smart cities’ next year

Fisker boss Henrik Fisker has told Autocar that his company’s new Orbit autonomous shuttle could come to the UK next year if there is demand for it.

“It will be [in the UK] as soon as somebody orders it, because we don’t need to worry about right or left-hand drive with a fully autonomous vehicle,” he said.

The model is a futuristic-looking electric passenger vehicle that the brand said features an interior more comparable to a hotel lobby than a car interior.

Designed for use in ‘smart cities’ – highly connected and digitalised urban environments – the shuttle is a shared vehicle that can operate entirely autonomously.

The shuttle has been produced in collaboration with China’s Hakim Unique Group, a connected technology provider, and will first be used in the company’s home city of Hangzhou, which is a smart city. Here, the Orbit will be able to connect to the urban environment network.

The first Orbits will take to the roads from October 2018.

Fisker told Autocar that his company has already received “interest from various corporate campuses”, suggesting the shuttles could be used to transport employees across business, university and research sites in the not-too-distant future.

“This is an open space segment with a lot of opportunity for growth, as inner cities and campuses will need small electric autonomous shuttles to take people more directly to places,” he said.

“The combination of our breakthrough automotive technology, design prowess and unique vantage point as industry revolutionaries is powerful. I’m very excited about making the impossible possible with intelligent urban ecosystems, starting with the development of one of the world’s most forward-thinking and uniquely designed electric autonomous shuttles: the Orbit.”

Fisker is yet to reveal the details of its shuttle powertrain, but the brand has recently filed patents for what it describes as breakthrough solid state battery technology.

The company’s Emotion electric coupé is due out in 2019 and uses this technology to enable a claimed 400-mile range.

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