Startup StreetDrone Launches Autonomous Test Vehicle Aimed at Developers

The U.K.-based company wants to make autonomous-car development cheaper.

U.K.-based startup StreetDrone wants to make the development of self-driving cars easier and more affordable. The company founders decided that the biggest obstacle to starting an autonomous-car research project is getting a car in the first place.

Enter the StreetDrone ONE, a small electric car prepped for autonomous driving. When it first appeared in April, the car was essentially a Renault Twizy with some sensors attached. But StreetDrone has modified the bodywork a bit, and announced the start of sales at the GPU Technology Conference in Munich, Germany. 

The StreetDrone ONE is equipped with six HD cameras, a 4G connection for data collection and updates, and a Nvidia Drive PX-series computer, which was designed specifically for autonomous driving. It comes with a price tag of 49,500 pounds ($65,265). Deliveries are expected to begin before the end of the year.

StreetDrone envisions its creation as a tool for engineering students. With all of the hardware for autonomous driving already in place, students can write their own software and test it on the ONE. That eliminates the cost and complexity involved with building a test vehicle from scratch.

The StreetDrone ONE’s plug-and-play setup could also benefit smaller startups and software developers, which may not have the money to build their own autonomous test mules. No one said big corporations should be the only players in autonomous driving.