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Toulouse trials an autonomous electric shuttle on the open road

Toulouse trials an autonomous electric shuttle on the open road

The aim is to demonstrate the safety and sustainability of the shuttle as a transport alternative

On Tuesday, Toulouse Metropolis gave the start to the testing of an autonomous electric shuttle. It will run on the Santé campus of the cancer research centre Oncopole, in addition to the existing thermal shuttle transport service, as a “last mile solution”. The trial will last until the summer of 2022 and is regarded as a major step in the development of autonomous vehicles in Europe.

Resolving the last-mile problem

The Metropolis of Toulouse announced on 2 March the launch of a driverless shuttle on one of the campuses of the future Oncopole, in the presence of Toulouse Mayor Jean-Luc Moudenc. For this experimentation, the French city partnered up with EasyMile (a start-up, developing autonomous electric vehicles funded by Alstom) and IUCT, the University Cancer Research Centre of Toulouse. The objective is to demonstrate its safety and sustainability as a transport alternative, on public roads.

EasyMile has successfully conducted two autonomous experiments so far in France in 2017 and 2018, so now the purpose is to find out how the public will react to the new technology. The service will allow the connection between the remote parking and the IUCT-Oncopole, as an alternative for the final and most difficult part of the journey from a communication perspective.

This operation is at the heart of the national strategy for autonomous vehicles and allows the co-construction of a legislative framework for its deployment on open roads, informed the local authorities. It is carried out with the assistance of the State Investments for the Future entrusted to ADEME as part of the EVRA call for proposals (EVRA stands for Autonomous Road Vehicle Experimentation), as one of thirteen national experiments.

Technical characteristics

The 3rd generation EasyMile shuttle will be equipped with an integrated electric PRM ramp. This experiment will provide strong guarantees in terms of safety:

  • Gradual deployment with the presence of an operator onboard during the first 6 months
  • Human presence on the site even during phases without an operator on board
  • Site equipped with 3 video surveillance cameras
  • Intelligent lighting device to improve user experience
  • A shuttle carrying a full range of sensors (LIDARS, cameras, GPS, IMU, odometry) and mature software technology allowing safe and reliable navigation.

The trial will pass through three phases, with and without an operator on board, to conclude in the summer of next year.

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