French Public Transport Launch Fully Autonomous Electric Bus Service

Fully electric and autonomous shuttles are being added to the fleet of a public transport operator in the French city of Lyon to provide a sustainable last-mile service.

The battery-powered shuttles, each capable of carrying 15 people, will start serving on a 1,350m circular route in the Confuelce district, which is known for its sustainable buildings amidst the massive redevelopment of a former industrial area.

Although the shuttles, designed by French driverless car specialist Navya, are completely autonomous and don’t even have a steering wheel or pedals, a human operator will be on board at all times.

During the trials, the shuttles will travel at 20km/h, following a route marked with pictograms on the ground. The top speed of the vehicles is actually 45km/h, but this will be capped during the trial. The vehicles come equipped with advanced navigation technologies including LiDAR, stereovision camera, real-time kinematic GPS and odometry.

The shuttles will be integrated into the public transport network of Lyon, which is the largest multimodal transport network in France after Paris, with 1.7 million trips a day made by its residents. The network’s operator Sytral already manages fleets of buses and trams, an underground system, as well as a bicycle-sharing scheme.

The driverless fleet will be sub-managed by Navly, a new company established by Navya and tailor-made mobility solutions firm Keolis.

The French Agency for Environment and Energy management is supporting the project together with the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy. The autonomous shuttle operations were approved for use on public roads after proving compliance with public safety requirements.

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