Rouen, in Normandy, France, is the first European city to experiment with allowing self-driving cars on public roads. This pioneering project is part of the Rouen Normandy Autonomous Lab project that is bringing together public and private partners, including Groupe Renault.
Launched in October 2017, this self-driving vehicle project offering a public transport service is already eliciting great expectations. Its experimental phase is planned to last until the end of 2019. After several months of testing, an on-demand electric mobility service will be offered to residents for use on “open roads”. Using a dedicated app, they will be able to call these “new generation” driverless taxis in real time.
The initial fleet is made up of four Renault ZOEs. These driverless and connected vehicles take all usual traffic constraints into consideration and are available on very specific routes: 17 stopping points are spread over three loops of 10 km in the Madrillet technopole in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray. These ZOEs drive their passengers at a speed below 30 km/h.
The perfect complement to other transportation options, the route covered by these Renault ZOEs creates a link between routes that are specifically reserved for public transportation: a tramway terminal and new dedicated bus lanes.
To offer this unprecedented service on French roads, the Renault ZOEs of the Rouen Normandy Autonomous Lab are a locus of different technologies. Groupe Renault and Transdev have equipped the vehicles with cameras, laser scanners (LiDAR), a differential GPS system and an HD map to ensure 360° visibility and precise geo-tracking. The road network is also equipped with sensors that are in permanent contact with the driverless vehicles. The vehicles are therefore connected to both the city infrastructure and their immediate surroundings.
Human control is provided by Rouen’s public transportation central command post, which oversees every ride. Finally, as required by law, the self-driving Renault ZOEs still have a steering wheel; this guarantees that you can take control of the vehicle at any time. Furthermore, during this first experimental phase, a safety driver will be present in each vehicle, who can intervene if necessary. This solution will remain in place until the new technologies have been proven and all legal constraints are lifted.
Copyright : Jean-Brice LEMAL