Europe’s first on-demand driverless vehicle service on open roads is set to begin operating in France later this year.
The pilot service, a collaboration between Delphi and French-based public transport operator Transdev, will see autonomous vehicles operating in Saclay, a Paris suburb, and Rouen in Normandy.
In Paris, initially one shuttle will operate along a fixed route from the train station to the campus of the University of Paris-Saclay.
In Rouen the service will operate in an area of the city where there is currently no public transport, and will initially consist of two driverless Renault Zoe cars.
Customers will be able to use a smartphone app to book a ride in the vehicles, which will be tracked by a remote control and command centre. A driver will initially sit in on the journeys to monitor the vehicles, but by 2018 the companies hope to operate the service without a driver on-board.
For the pilot the companies have chosen the so-called “last-mile” of public transport – the journey between a train or bus station and the commuter’s place of work, for example – as it is seen as an area of particular need, according to Serge Lambermont, director of automated driving at Delphi.
“People like to travel by public transport, but this last mile, how to get from your subway station to your destination, is an inconvenience,”
“So if you can arrive with the ticket already on your smart phone connecting you to an automated, mobility-on-demand taxi or pod system, which takes you on to your location, you take all the inconvenience out.”
The vehicles will be equipped with a range of different sensors, designed to complement each other. Each vehicle will be fitted with short range radar, for example, with sensors at each corner and two at either side, as well as one forward facing image radar and one rear facing long range radar.
Read more: The Engineer