Autonomous vehicle developer and manufacturer EasyMile will lead a partnership to work on a French government-backed project to integrate driverless technology into full-size electric bus.
The urban bus, as with many other vehicles, is experiencing a technological revolution with the development of autonomous driving systems and the electrification of powertrains. These technologies are expected to transform public transportation and the way in which it is operated in the coming years, making it more cost-effective, ‘greener’, safer, more flexible, and more comfortable. As a leader in the development of autonomous driving systems, EasyMile has joined forces with IVECO, Sector, Transpolis, ISAE-SUPAERO, Ifsttar, Inria, and Michelin to develop the technologies necessary for a full-size self-driving bus.
Based in France, EasyMile developed its first product in 2014, with the EZ10 12-passenger driverless shuttle bus now one of the most widely deployed self-driving transit vehicles worldwide. Designed to solve the ‘first-mile/last-mile’ mobility problem, the EZ10 has already driven more than 74,600 miles (120,000km) in 20 countries with full SAE Level 4 autonomy. EasyMile has used its experience with the EZ10 to integrate its driverless technology into different vehicle platforms. In October, EasyMile announced a partnership with French manufacturer of airport ground support equipment the TLD Group to develop the first driverless baggage tractors, referred to as the TractEasy.
EasyMile will now use its technology to develop a driverless 40 ft (12m)-long bus with a capacity of at least 100 passengers, and either a hybrid or battery-electric powertrain. The company’s technologies to be integrated into the bus include safety controls, navigation software, cybersecurity protocols and deployment processes. EasyMile also has advanced fleet management systems, and one of the first that is fully dedicated to autonomous vehicles.
Development of the driverless bus technology will be subsidized by the French government through an FUI program (Fonds unique interministériel). The project has been certified and supported by CARA (previously LUTB Transport Mobility Systems), Aerospace Valley, and NFI (Nouvelle France Industrielle). Project partners include:
EasyMile Driverless systems provider;
IVECO Vehicle provider;
Sector Safety analysis;
Transpolis Use case definition, testing, and validation of autonomous vehicles in realistic environment;
ISAE-SUPAERO Semantic localization;
Ifsttar Research in accessibility for passengers with reduced mobility and user acceptance;
Inria Multisensor fusion and collision avoidance;
Michelin Connected tires.
Gilbert Gagnaire, CEO of EasyMile, commented, “We are at the forefront of driverless technology development, and are excited to extend the possibilities of its applications.”