Keolis and the European Metropole of Lille launched an electric autonomous shuttle service at the University of Lille in Villeneuve d'Ascq, with a student population of 20,000 and 1,600 researchers. Worldwide, this is now the fourth autonomous shuttle service in a university zone and the second in France.
The service at Lille University will employ two NAVYA electric autonomous shuttles for one year and have four dedicated stops on a just less than one mile route, which provides connections to two metro stations. This is the first time in France that autonomous shuttles have operated on open public roads, and shared public space with pedestrians, bicycles, and motorized vehicles. It is also the first time for the shuttles to a roundabout without any external assistance (no traffic lights or roadside detectors).
The service is free for all users and is accessible to people with reduced mobility as the shuttle is equipped with ramps. The service will operate throughout the day, Monday to Friday, with greater frequency during peak hours. The trial represents another step forward in the integration of autonomous vehicles into the urban landscape, according to Keolis officials.
Encouraged by the results of trials in two universities in Australia (La Trobe in Melbourne, and Flanders in Adelaide) and another one in Rennes in France, where 3,000 passengers travelled onboard the shuttles in the first three weeks of operation, Keolis believes in the strong potential of the university market. The group is firmly convinced by the importance of autonomous shuttles in improving transport services to campuses as it enables people to use a shared mobility service between the university and existing public transport networks (metro, bus routes, and park-and-ride facilities). The shuttles are 100% electric, environmentally friendly, and provide a good alternative to the private car and a complementary offer to walking, cycling, and the scooter.
Since the launch of the first ever shuttle service in Lyon, France, back in September 2016 Keolis has carried out more than 30 trials and demonstrations, driven more than 24,000 miles, and transported over 120,000 passengers in autonomous shuttles, both in France and internationally.