Shuttle of the Navetty project in Les Mureaux, France, Source: TransDev

First driverless vehicles are already running in Europe

First driverless vehicles are already running in Europe

Some autonomous shuttles in France are now doing their rounds without a human supervisor inside

Somewhat quietly, and without much fanfare, 2023 has already brought in new breakthroughs in mobility innovation on European roads – more specifically in the form of driverless shuttles. The first such vehicles, having no human operator or supervisor inside, are already doing their scheduled rounds in at least a couple of spots, both of which are in France.

The small vehicles have been part of pilot projects, which had run for many months, including the presence of human supervisors before the next logical step had been taken. In essence, the sci-fi future envisioned by books and films – well, at least the part of self-driving transport – is already here.

The future of public mobility starts here

In fact, according to media sources, both autonomous shuttle projects have removed the human supervisors (calling them drivers would be inaccurate) from the board of the vehicles already back in November 2022.

One of these is the Navetty project in Les Mureaux – a city to the west of Paris. Their claim is to be the first in Europe to have achieved a fully operational driverless transport service under normal traffic conditions.

The project was first launched in May 2021 and has been operating at a site owned by aerospace company ArianeGroup.

The site is considered an ideal testing ground for shuttles that will be deployed in urban environments in future, as it brings together many of the complexities of city traffic. The shuttles share road space with other vehicles and pedestrians, with no dedicated lanes provided or modifications to existing infrastructure. And the route includes intersections, a tunnel and 18 stops spread throughout the site.

Still, there is a supervisor, but he is only overseeing the operation of the vehicles remotely in case of emergencies. It is also hoped that a route will be opened on a public road between the Mureaux train station and the ArianeGroup site.

The other test project has been taking place on the campus of Paul-Sabatier University in Toulouse (also in France). For the past few months, an autonomous shuttle called autOCampus, designed by Easy Mile, has been transporting students and faculty staff free of charge.

The vehicle completes a 4.5-kilometer-long journey punctuated by four stops. One of them is located near the Paul-Sabatier metro station. The latter thus creates an intermodal connection with the municipal public transit network.



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