Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab introduces new autonomous, electric, and shared mobility services
Groupe Renault, the Transdev Group, IRT SystemX, Institut VEDECOM, and the University of Paris-Saclay initiated the Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab project to develop new driverless mobility services using dedicated lane and public and campus streets to supplement the existing Saclay Plateau transportation systems.
The Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab was inaugurated on May 15, 2019, at the Spring 2019 innovation event by Grégoire de Lasteyrie, Île-de-France regional councilor, special delegate responsible for new mobility and Mayor of Palaiseau; Francisque Vigouroux, Vice-President of the Paris-Saclay urban community responsible for mobility and transportation and Mayor of Igny; and Michel Bournat, Mayor of Gif-sur-Yvette and President of the Paris-Saclay urban community. The inauguration ceremony was attended by Thierry Mallet, Chairman and CEO of Transdev Group; Arnaud Molinié, Senior Vice President, Mobility Services, Groupe Renault; Paul Labrogere, CEO, IRT SystemX; Sylvie Retailleau, President of the University of Paris-Saclay; Philippe Watteau, Managing Director, VEDECOM; and Elizabeth Crepon, Director, ENSTA.
This first stage of the Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab project is one of the SAM experiments selected by the French government on April 24, 2019, following the EVRA (autonomous road vehicle experiment) call for projects under the Investments for the Future (PIA) program. The SAM experiments are part of France's national autonomous vehicle development strategy. They are designed to familiarize local citizens and stakeholders with these systems, expand their use, and build a regulatory framework that notably includes the safety approval process.
The Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab project provides for a nighttime transportation service using an autonomous Transdev-Lohr i-Cristal shuttle that will serve the Saclay Plateau neighborhoods from the Massy station. The service will be provided outside the normal operating hours of the regular transportation systems and will use the existing dedicated bus lane.
Between half past midnight and 3:00 a.m., an autonomous Transdev-Lohr i-Cristal shuttle will serve four stops (Massy Palaiseau, Palaiseau Ville, La Vallée, Camille Claudel), covering a total distance of nearly 6 km (3.7 mi) in both directions and providing users with transportation between the Massy station and the Saclay Plateau to supplement the existing train, regional express, coach, and bus services.
The service is designed to fit in with the existing transportation systems and extend service beyond their scheduled operating times. It will optimize existing road infrastructure and commercial speed by using the public bus rapid transit lanes. It will also use the existing stops located in the main neighborhoods between the Massy station and the Camille Claudel bus station in Palaiseau.
In addition to the nighttime service, a daytime on-demand car service using autonomous Renault ZOE Cab prototype vehicles will be provided on the Paris-Saclay urban campus. People traveling to the campus by public transportation can use it to move freely around the site.
The service will operate as follows. The user hails a car or books a car ahead of time via a dedicated Marcel smartphone app. A prototype autonomous electric Renault ZOE Cab comes to pick up the user at the nearest pick-up point. The user enters the vehicle and is driven to the drop-off point closest to his or her destination. If need be, the vehicle stops on the way to pick up another passenger traveling along all or part of the same route.
The service is designed to provide a large number of pick-up and drop-off points that do not interfere with other traffic and are located near (about 300 m from, at most) the most frequented campus areas.
The Paris-Saclay experiments are designed to identify the requirements for rolling out an autonomous mobility service on a broader scale. The project will focus on two main issues: technology, with an autonomous transportation system comprising two types of supplementary service; and acceptability, with user panels to study ridership.
Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab incorporates smart vehicle systems, a supervision system, a connected infrastructure, and secure telecommunications networks. Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab services will gradually introduce user panels to record user views and expectations (service quality, mobile app usability, in-vehicle comfort, etc.).
The Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab is an autonomous transport system comprised of autonomous electric vehicles, an operating control center to supervise the services, connected infrastructure, and customer apps.
The all-electric autonomous Renault ZOE Cab prototypes and Transdev-Lohr i-Cristal shuttle perform the full range of safety-critical driving functions such as detection of other vehicles and pedestrians, intersection and roundabout management, deceleration, and traffic light recognition. They are equipped with GPS-type sensors, LiDAR, cameras, inertial units, and self-driving software and provide full autonomy in specified areas. Interior cameras and screens are provided for passengers throughout the trip. Experiments are conducted with a “safety operator” onboard the vehicle.
The Mobibot by Transdev smartphone app enables the user to track the Transdev-Lohr
i-Cristal shuttle trip in real time. It displays the shuttle’s arrival time at the user's stop, route simulation, and time to destination, including any distance to be covered on foot.
A Marcel smartphone app specific to the Renault ZOE Cab experiment can be used to book an on-demand autonomous vehicle for immediate or later use. The app directs the user from his or her current location to the nearest pick-up point and indicates the vehicle's arrival time. Within the vehicle, the app can be used to track the trip and time of arrival at the drop-off point.
Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab vehicles are designed to merge with normal traffic flow and reach compatible speeds while ensuring a high degree of safety in two-way public streets and dedicated bus lanes. To achieve this, the project partners decided to roll out and test connected infrastructure consisting of connected traffic lights, sensors, and roadside connectivity equipment (primarily thermal cameras and LiDAR devices located at 25 strategic points). The infrastructure provides the vehicles and supervision system with augmented vision to handle unforeseen events. The communicating traffic lights enable the vehicle to adapt its approach speed to traffic light status. To boost pedestrian and cyclist safety, the experiment will test the use of connected objects such as smartphones and wearables to be taken into account by the vehicle or send alerts to the equipped user.
Supervision from an Operating Control Center located at the Massy station will track operation of the services in real time. The supervisor will display all vehicles in operation, check their status and the status of system components, and use the connected infrastructure to anticipate any obstacles along the route and take appropriate action as required. The supervisor can be in direct contact with passengers and interact with them.
Demand for the Saclay Plateau mobility system is expected to grow, with the number of users and residents projected to exceed 50,000 in 2022 (vs. 25,000 in 2016) and some 80,000 in the 2029 timeframe. The number of students is expected to reach 20,000 in 2022 and about 25,000 in 2029.
To address these issues in the near future, the public authorities decided, among other initiatives, to expand the use of new types of mobility (shared shuttles, on-demand vehicles, etc.) as part of the public transportation systems.
The Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab project is an integral part of this approach. It is designed to demonstrate the suitability of autonomous mobility solutions as part of an existing transportation network, in terms of their performance, complementarity with existing systems, and economic viability.