With Ontario just announcing that it would be the first province in Canada to allow the testing of self driving cars, Varden Labs, a Waterloo-based startup, has found itself ahead of the curve.
Varden Labs, which creates autonomous electric shuttles (looking very much like a tricked out golf cart), was the first to test a self-driving vehicle in Canada. Last night on The Disruptors, CEO and co-founder Alex Rodigrues talked about how his team is tackling a niche market.
As the self-driving car market may be too large for the seed-stage company, Varden Labs is targeting university campuses and golf courses that use shuttle vehicles to drive short distances. Over time, the costs to pay for a driver for these shuttles add up for the companies that use them.
Rodrigues explained that the cart works by using a LIDAR sensor, a laser scanner that gives the shuttle a 3D image of the world around it. “Seed stage investing for something like this is a risky proposition,” said Bruce Croxon, co-host of The Disruptors. “But if I were to pick one area to start the self-driving revolution, it would be vehicles in which you can do deals with private landowners like golf courses.”
Co-host Amber Kanwar and Croxon agreed it was easier than going through city regulation: “You don’t have to go through all the red tape and wait for the safety issues to be worked out. I think it’s a great place to start,” Croxon said.
Watch the video below:
BetaKit is a production partner on The Disruptors. Tune in to BNN every Thursday night at 7pm for full episodes!