Transdev expanding autonomous passenger shuttle programs to North America

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One of the world’s largest private-sector operators of multiple modes of public transport is currently running Autonomous Vehicle (AV) passenger shuttles in multiple cities in Europe, and is now expanding these services to the North American market.

Currently operating public transportation in 19 countries worldwide, French-headquartered company Transdev, which has its USA operations based near Chicago, Illinois, has now formed the Transdev Autonomous Vehicle Group to expand its AV pilots and programs into North America. With its current sphere of global operations including bus, rail, streetcar, paratransit, shuttle, and sedan and taxi services, Transdev’s new division has the key goal of integrating its AV systems and services into a new form of shared-ride mobility. The company already has 200 traditional transit contracts in North America, covering more than 400 million passenger trips.

Transdev’s current European AV operations carry 4,000 passengers per day in two locations: in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the company’s 1.1-mile (1.7km) route links a metro station to a business park; and in Civaux, France, it operates the country’s first commercial autonomous fleet on a 1.5-mile (2.4km) route at a nuclear power plant. Additional programs are underway in two more French cities. Based on the success of those programs, pilot projects featuring Trandev’s AV turnkey systems are currently in development in campus environments and other selected communities in the USA.

The company is working with AV manufacturers in North America and has built partnerships with companies such as Easymile, a leading manufacturer of AV shuttles for public transportation. Transdev is also partnered with Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), a non-partisan non-profit working to reduce oil dependence. Transdev and SAFE have sponsored a study to identify the public health benefits that autonomous vehicles could bring as a result of sharply reduced traffic accidents and lower emissions.

The technology requirements of AV operations have spurred Transdev to develop a proprietary algorithm for dynamic passenger-vehicle matching that facilitates real-time performance of mobile apps. Ongoing research is focused on blending the technology into additional pilot programs. The development of this new expertise is a natural evolution for the company, combining rapidly emerging technology with a proven history of operating safe, quality public transportation systems.

“We are bringing our unique position as a leading AV operator to North America,” said Transdev North America’s CEO, Mark Joseph. “Driverless vehicles can plug multiple gaps that exist in current transport networks. They also create a new low-cost solution that opens mobility options that may never have been considered before. This bold mobility solution is one more benefit we can offer to our customers all over the world. In addition to near-term opportunities on campuses, private-road throughways and AV zones, autonomous vehicles can supplement transit networks with first-mile last-mile service, or augment options to underserved areas. With time, AVs in transit have great potential to become a genuine problem solver.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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