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French driverless shuttles being demonstrated in London and Paris

Two leading French pioneers in the development of autonomous vehicles, EasyMile and Navya, have been demonstrating their driverless electric shuttles in London and Paris over the last few days.

Paris and Lyon-based Navya has shown its Arma fully autonomous and 100% driverless and electric shuttle in the UK at an exclusive demonstration for London Heathrow Airport’s Electric and Autonomous Showcase, which is taking place on January 24-26. Since first deploying the Arma in France in late 2015, the vehicles have transported more than 100,000 people and have grown to have a fleet of 30 shuttles that are currently in use in seven countries around the world.

The arrival of Navya in the UK follows the successful launch of the Arma in the USA, where the shuttle has been rolled-out recently on the public roads of Las Vegas's downtown Fremont East Entertainment District. The live testing follows its introduction at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and another Arma is currently operating at Mcity, the University of Michigan’s unique test site for connected and automated vehicles.

The Arma is a 100% autonomous, driverless and electric public transport vehicle that can carry up to 15 people. The shuttle is equipped with a multitude of sensors to provide 3D vision that enables it to map out the environment and detect obstacles in its path. The Arma can reach speeds of 30mph (48km/h), however, taking into account the nature of the sites it serves, this is often limited to 15mph (24km/h). The vehicle aims to provide a complement to current public transport systems over distances that are too short to go by car or are too long on foot – the ‘first-mile, last-mile’ conundrum.

“Breaking into the UK market is one of our major objectives, so we are delighted to be here at London’s Heathrow Airport to demonstrate our innovative smart mobility solution,” said Navya’s VP of sales, Henri Coron. “Autonomous technology will certainly be a part of the airports of the future. Autonomous vehicles will allow airports to deal with certain flow issues currently experienced, and to thus improve the passenger’s airport experience.”

Meanwhile, in Paris, Toulouse-based EasyMile is testing two of its EZ10 autonomous shuttles on a dedicated track on the Charles de Gaulle Bridge. The demonstration project has been organized in association with the state-owned transit operator RATP, in partnership with the coordinator of the Parisian public transport network STIF, and the City of Paris authorities.

From January 23 to April 7, users will be able to travel free of charge between the city’s Austerlitz and Lyon railway stations, from 2:00-8:00pm, seven days a week. The EasyMile shuttles can carry six standing and six seated passengers and will operate with a supervisor on board.

The project aim is to gather the opinion of users on the new service, as well as possible suggestions for improvements. Data will be collected on their performance and reliability, with RATP conducting a detailed assessment of the real-world tests over the following months.

January 25, 2017

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