Gizmos & Gadgets: ROPITS – the Self-driving Robot Car

ROPITS is the creation of Hitachi Ltd., the Japanese electronics and engineering company. Seen in the image below, this is a self-driving robotic car. The name translates to Robot for Personal Intelligent Transport System.

Not meant to be a replacement for automobiles but rather as a replacement for electric carts used by the elderly and disabled, ROPITS can operate on roads and off road in malls and along pedestrian and bicycle paths using its own built-in guidance systems, sensors and GPS.

Passengers can use the touch-screen on board map to plot a route to a destination and then let ROPITS take them there using its 3D laser distance sensors, stereo cameras, obstruction avoidance technology, gyro sensors and guidance systems. The gyro sensors maintain the vehicle’s upright position even when driving through rough ground and potholes. At anytime a passenger can override the automatic systems and guide the ROPITS by joystick.

Hitachi intends to present ROPITS at ROBOMEC 2013, the Robotics and Mechatronics Conference, in May. So far no mention of price in any of the literature but it is fun to watch ROPITS in action on YouTube.


Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery.