The autonomous and electric shuttles of the Navetty research project, supported by the Yvelines Department, EasyMile, Transdev, Ariane Group, and VEDECOM have been running with an on-board supervisor since their official launch in May 2021 at the ArianeGroup site in Les Mureaux, France.
In early November, a new step was taken. The fleet of shuttles is now running completely autonomously, without a human supervisor inside the vehicle, according to Navetty's news release.
The Yvelines department has invested 2.5 million euros in the project, and the Navetty research program aims to promote industrial R&D in the region.
"Solving the last mile problem, which many of the region's residents encounter in their daily travels, is also a priority objective, and is fully in line with the strengthening of the region's mobility investment policy," said Maxime Rabasté, director of environment and development position at the Yvelines department. "This autonomous shuttle service should eventually provide an optimal connection to the future RER EOLE stations. The department is also continuing to support the strengthening of links between the aeronautical, technological, and automotive industries, which are very present in the region."
Two shuttles, developed by EasyMile and operated by Transdev, run daily on routes of up to 6.6 km to enable Ariane Group employees to travel around the 92-hectare site. Since the launch, more than 50 daily trips have been made, covering 23,000 kilometers in complete safety.
The shuttles are integrated into a shared environment where pedestrians and vehicles circulate, without modifying existing infrastructures or dedicated lanes. The route integrates traffic circles, intersections, a tunnel, and 18 stops spread throughout the site
"We are proud to have a reliable and relevant service for ArianeGroup employees, on such a complex site and in a totally autonomous way," said Benoit Perrin, GM of EasyMile. "Autonomous shuttles reinforce the attractiveness of public transport, by offering practical and safe collective mobility solutions. Our technology is ready to be deployed on sites of this scale and other sites will soon follow Ariane's example."
The autonomous shuttles were deployed progressively over a period of five months, guaranteeing a total level of safety at each stage. A remote supervisor can intervene or interact with passengers at any time from the Central Control Station (CCS), with the possibility of acting when necessary.
The arrival of a third shuttle in January will test the feasibility of supervising a fleet of three autonomous shuttles with a single supervisor.
"Through this program, Transdev is preparing to operate the first commercial autonomous shuttle services," said Virginie Fernandes, director of strategy and transformation for the Transdev group. "From the training of supervisors to the deployment and operation of the service, we are applying our business expertise to achieve the same standards of safety and quality of service as in our fleets of driven vehicles."
Navetty said the project will continue to progress, with the launch in 2023 of a route on an open road between the Mureaux train station and the Ariane Group site. This will be an opportunity to test the implementation of a "last-mile" service and to reflect on the next stages of deployment.