You don’t encounter vehicles much on Amazon. Especially autonomously driving (AVs) electric vehicles (EVs) are not that much represented on the ecommerce giant’s website. I was notified about such a vehicle that was being offered on Amazon though, and to be precise, it was more of a shuttle bus.
And yet, the most exciting aspect was the pricing for “only” 70,000 USD. Even manually operated shuttle buses can go up to 800,000 USD and beyond without all the tech included. Can this offer be for real?
We checked into the story and found out that this is not a prank. It is a legitimate placement by a company called PerceptIn who are based in Hong Kong but also have branches in the US. They have previously also offered digital signage kiosks on Amazon with the ability to analyze people passing by for some demographic stats.
Thanks to some very professional and rapid press correspondents we were able to ask Shaoshan Liu , Founder, CEO, and Chairman of PerceptIn a couple of our most pressing questions that immediately came to mind when hearing the words “70k autonomous EV bus sold on Amazon”.
Christopher Isak: What will the buyers get for their 70,000 USD when they buy one of the offered autonomous vehicles?
Shaoshan Liu: Buyers will get a DragonFly 8-seat Autonomous Shuttle Bus equipped with advanced sensors, which includes eight sonars, six mm-wave radars, 1 GNSS module and a DragonFly Computer Vision Module. Also, they will get a 1-year warranty as a protection against any malfunction.
CI: The pricing seems aggressive, to say the least. Why offer the vehicle at such a discount? Is that still making a profit for you?
SL: The reason why we price the solution at 70, 000 USD is that we want to democratize autonomous driving by mass implementation with affordable cost.
On the one hand, PerceptIn uses visual perception technology as opposed to LiDAR sensors with the result being a safer and more affordable vehicle, while a lot of the tech companies building autonomous vehicles are using lidar technology, which is extremely expensive and results in cars costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
On the other hand, PerceptIn has built a reliable and robust supply chain to make it happen. We believe that as we further streamline our supply chain, we would be able to provide a more affordable price in the future to democratizing autonomous driving technology.
CI: Tell us more about the technology. What parts have been built into the solution? How does it all work together?
SL: Several innovations are incorporated into our product. The first innovation is the patented vision-based sensor fusion: to achieve affordability and reliability, multiple affordable sensors can be used to fuse their data synergistically. Not only do these sensors each have their own characteristics, drawbacks, and advantages, but they complement each other such that when one fails or otherwise malfunctions, others can immediately take over to ensure system reliability. With this sensor fusion approach, we are able to limit sensor costs to stay under $10,000.
The second innovation is the patented modular computing system design: by breaking the functional units into modules and having each module perform as much computing as possible. This leads to a reduction in the burden on the main computing system and simplification in its design, with consequently higher reliability. Can the vehicles actually be delivered properly?
CI: Buying vehicles on Amazon is a bit new to many people. Are the logistics a challenge?
SL: We’ve made a lot of preparation to make sure the logistics process run smoothly. We have reliable vendors to help navigate the complexity of timing, accuracy, costs, and compliance related to the movement of the products.
What our customers need to do is simply place an order on Amazon, and we will ship the vehicle to their home or business.
CI: How easy is it to adhere to Amazon’s overall policies for market traders? Can you easily work with 30-day returns or provide a full exchange service if the product begins to be faulty within two years of the purchase?
SL: We promised to adhere to Amazon’s overall policies for our customers. In addition, we will provide 1-week onsite setup support as well as a 1-year warranty for our customers.
CI: How did you get the idea to design such solutions in the first place?
SL: The DragonFly Autonomous Shuttle Bus is built for low-speed scenarios such as university campuses, industrial parks, farms, and areas with limited traffic. PerceptIn would like to provide short-range transportation service for students, visitors, especially the elderly and the disabled, to enable more diverse participation in our social and cultural networks.
CI: Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk with us today. Would you like to share anything else with our readers?
SL: PerceptIn believes that the self-driving vehicles can safely scale the benefits of autonomous driving — including increased independence, freedom, affordability and upward economic mobility — for citizens globally who potentially run the risk of being excluded from the pending transportation revolution.
PerceptIn is exploring different ways to help the robotics and automotive industries with the DragonFly’s technology. First, PerceptIn has designed and implemented several autonomous vehicles targeted different usage scenarios that require transportation and automation service. All of the vehicles are built in modular and Lego-like approach, which enable the components of the vehicles to be easily configured so that even people with minimal engineering backgrounds can assemble their own AVs.
Second, the company is providing the DragonFly sensor as an independent component for robotics and automotive companies to improve their own solutions. For more information, please visit our website: www.perceptin.io
YouTube: Shaoshan Liu introduces PerceptIn at Startup:Con 2018 in Korea Photo credit: All images have been provided by and are owned by PerceptIn.
Editorial notice: It’s possible that some of the presented graphics are rendered product design mockups and not photographs of a final product. The interview has been edited for clarity. Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. Without additional cost to you, we might earn a commission, if you decide to purchase something.