The transportation industry is changing. Vehicles are getting smarter and smaller, environments are being designed on a more human scale, and companies are rushing to innovate in the face of these changes. Or as Jeffrey Schnapp, of Harvard’s “idea foundry” metaLAB, describes it: “a sense that the world of mobility is undergoing a significant transformation.”
One of the first responses to these pressures is Gita (pronounced jeeh-tah), an autonomous land drone that can follow a pedestrian or bicyclist on its own, at a distance of a few feet. It can also carry up to 40 pounds of cargo in a biometrically-locked bay, freeing its user from carrying burdens like tools, shopping, etc. Profiled by the Wall Street Journal, CNN and TechCrunch, among other media, Gita is designed specifically for cluttered, difficult-to-navigate urban environments. It may be the first of many such solutions as transportation products trend toward smaller, lighter and smarter.
The credit for this innovation belongs to Piaggio Group, makers of Vespa scooters since the 1940s, and Schnapp, who recently teamed up to form Piaggio Fast Forward, an organization dedicated to creating “lightweight, intelligent and autonomous mobility solutions for goods and people.” Schnapp is now CEO of the new venture, which is designed to break Piaggio “out of well-worn ruts” as the transportation industry approaches these giant shifts in both product and environment.