RATP embarks travelers by day on its autonomous bus in Île-de-France

Estimated read time 3 min read

RATP embarks travelers by day on its autonomous bus in Île-de-France

Autonomous driving operation at the RATP: new season. The experimentation began in 2021 with the implementation of a “100% autonomous bus on a classic line”. The “first” of the transport authority therefore has a sequel.

Île-de-France Mobilités and RATP have announced a new test, this time with passengers on board and daytime traffic. Here again, the two actors claim a “first in France.”

A complementary bus in rush hour

The 12-meter and 100% electric autonomous vehicle made its first kilometers during the day with passengers on September 11th. It runs on line 393 and can accommodate up to 17 passengers on board. Note that the bus is equipped with an agent, a backup driver or safety driver.

“This driver’s role is to ensure the safety of passengers in all circumstances,” specifies the Board. For this new episode of its autonomous driving program, the RATP has chosen a line located in a small crown.

Consisting of 20 stops over 12 kilometers, for a journey time of about 30 minutes, line 393 stretches between Sucy-Bonneuil until its terminus Crossroads of the Resistance, located in the town of Thiais.

Cohabitation: a need for expertise

However, the autonomous bus does not complete the entire route. It is operated as a complementary vehicle during rush hour and serves only part of the stops, on an equally arranged time slot – from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 15 pm.

The autonomous bus is a priori unchanged since the first tests in 2021. It is thus a standard vehicle of the CRRC brand, with some differences. It is in particular equipped with 5 sensors (2 lidars, 2 radars, 1 camera).

For RATP, these traffic arrangements have the objective of “not disturbing the usual service.”However, the company’s ambition is not to limit autonomous vehicles to a complementary offer in the future.

The RATP, through this experiment, pursues a double perspective. “The first is to eventually and gradually integrate autonomy into a line with a high level of service, to reinvent everyday mobility, thanks to a bus,” she specifies.

An autonomous shuttle in Paris too

The Paris authority also intends to strengthen its expertise on autonomy issues, “in particular by addressing the issue of the cohabitation of an autonomous vehicle within a conventional operation.”

To achieve these two objectives, RATP has initiated in parallel a second experiment in the field of autonomous driving with passengers. On September 18, an inter-station shuttle bus was put into operation.

Intended to “demonstrate the autonomous mode in a very urban environment”, the shuttle connects the Lyon Station, the Bercy Pole and the Austerlitz Station. The purpose remains unchanged: “to study the modalities of integration of autonomous vehicles in the Ile-de-France network”, comments Gilles Tauzin, the director of innovation.

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