Two Level 4 Autonomous pods go on the roads in France

The driverless vehicle supplier EasyMile and multinational public transport public transport operator Keolis have taken a further step in completely automated mobility by remotely supervising two fully driverless shuttles, without any human supervisor on board, at France’s National Sports Shooting Centre, in the centre of the country. They say this new phase aims to validate the economic and operational model of the autonomous shuttles.

During competition days, EasyMile’s autonomous electric shuttles will transport spectators and athletes the mile between the main car park, located at the entrance of the centre, and the shooting ranges. This last-mile service is a new, more environmentally friendly mode of mobility. The shuttles are also accessible to people with reduced mobility.

Keolis has tested and operated these two third-generation EasyMile autonomous shuttles on the CNTS site for 18 months. It says the deployment enabled the it to test the navigation software bricks and to validate the latest features of the critical safety systems, which allow the vehicles to travel safely in level 4 autonomy (without any on-board human assistance and supervised remotely).

The two shuttles run simultaneously without an operator on board. They are monitored by a field operator and a supervision centre in Paris. Passengers can communicate with the supervisor using an intercommunication system and cameras positioned inside the vehicles.

The companies explain that, thanks to a sufficiently high level of technological integrity, this offers a real mobility service on the CNTS site. It also paves the way for other similar deployments, joining sites such as ArianeGroup, and Terhills, Belgium, also with fleets of fully autonomous shuttles, supervised remotely.

These private sites, in a controlled environment, are the perfect use cases for the deployment of autonomous shuttles, and the last step before scaling up to public roads, as EasyMile has already started to do on the IUCT Oncopole medical campus in Toulouse, to provide innovative, inclusive and sustainable mobility solutions.

“This new service, based on the know-how of two major players in autonomous public transport, is a further step towards scaling up, thanks to the control of operations by a single supervisor for two shuttles. Carried out in collaboration with Keolis, this project highlights the service that a fleet of autonomous shuttles can provide and the maturity of our technology.” Benoit Perrin, Managing Director of EasyMile.

This service is part of the SAM consortium (Safety and Acceptability of Autonomous Driving and Mobility), a nationwide project in France for experimenting with autonomous driving and mobility that brings together industrial players, research and local partners. The challenge is twofold: to develop the use and knowledge of these systems by citizens and local players and to build the future regulatory framework, particularly in terms of safety validation.

The operation is at the heart of the national strategy for autonomous vehicles, enabling the co-construction of a legislative framework for deployment on open roads. It is being carried out with the support of the French government’s Investissements d’avenir, operated by ADEME, as part of the EVRA (Experimentation of Autonomous Road Vehicles) call for projects.

(Picture – Easymile)


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