PFF wants to develop autonomous products that “augment and extend” human capabilities
Piaggio Group, the leading European manufacturer of two-wheel motor vehicles has set up a new company, Piaggio Fast Forward (PFF). It will develop light mobility solutions and has introduced its first autonomous vehicle.
The newly-established US-based company wants to shake-up the market by “fundamentally rethinking the movement of people and goods”.
“The transportation and robotics industries tend to focus on optimising tasks and displacing labour,” said Jeffrey Schnapp, CEO of Piaggio Fast Forward. “We are developing products that augment and extend human capabilities, instead of simply seeking to replace them.”
“We have established Piaggio Fast Forward to reinvent the future of mobility and this is best accomplished with PFF as a separate entity, but with the backing and experience of the Piaggio Group,” added Michele Colaninno, chairman of the board of PFF. ”You can expect to find Piaggio Fast Forward blurring the lines between transportation, robotics, and urban environments.”
Piaggio Fast Forward’s first offering is Gita (pronounced “jee-ta” and in Italian means a “short trip”), an autonomous vehicle that extends a person’s cargo-carrying abilities. It learns and navigates indoors and out with the oversight and decision-making of humans. It is able to follow a human operator or move autonomously in a mapped environment.
Standing at 26 inches, Gita has a cargo carrying capacity of 40lbs, and a top speed of 22mph. It is intended is to travel at human speeds with similar levels of agility. With a zero turning radius it is designed to accompany people at speeds from a crawl, to a walk, to a jog, to riding a bike. Instead of deciding to use an automobile or truck to transport 40 pounds worth of packages, the mobility company said it wants to help people walk, run, pedal and skate through life with the assistance of a family of vehicles like Gita.
“Think about how much more freely you would be able to move from one point to another if lugging cumbersome items was removed from the equation,” added Schnapp. “Gita frees up the human hand to focus on complex and creative everyday tasks by taking over mundane transportation chores. You can also send your Gita off on missions while you are busy doing something more pressing.”
PFF will be deploying Gita in a variety of B2B pilot programmes in the near term, with a view towards future consumer applications.
Piaggio Fast Forward is based in Boston, Massachusetts and is headed by CEO Jeffrey Schnapp, chief creative officer Greg Lynn, chief operating officer Sasha Hoffman and chief design research officer Dr Beth Altringer.
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