The VEDECOM Tech team went to Rennes February 11, 2020 in order to evaluate an innovative autonomous experiment, deployed within the framework of the SAM project, associating the manufacturers Navya and EasyMile. Competition or positive collaboration? Discover the logbook of our visit.

The experiment includes two shuttles, from two different makers: Easymile and Navya. It allows users to have two experiences. Above all, this playground creates positive competition and potentially stimulates technological and service progress for industry and territories. 

A site conducive?? to the deployment of an autonomous shuttle service useful for real users 

Arriving in the morning at 9 am from Rennes station at the Beaulieu RU bus stop on line C4, it only takes us a few meters to reach the Beaulieu RU Etoile terminus of the shuttle service. On site, we immediately observe an inflow of pedestrians, mainly students, who move around the campus. The site therefore seems ideal for accommodating autonomous shuttles. These transport students to various points of interest from 7.45 am to 6.30 pm: university restaurants, a cultural center, a digital hub, schools and the administrative center. 

The means are there: 4 vehicles are deployed and provide a useful service: 6 stations on a 1.3 km route and with a waiting time that varies between 7 and 15 minutes. Moreover, the service gets a line number like the others regular lines: it is line 100 of Rennes city’s STAR network. We appreciate the integration of passenger information into the supports already in place: the website, the mobile application, the screens on board buses. 

This is one of the rare experiments in which we rub shoulders with “real” users: regulars who regularly get on a shuttle as in a traditional transport vehicle, without apprehension, often when it arrives at the right time, in the right place on their journey. However, these “real” users are still too few for our tastes. 

The comparative analysis of VEDECOM Tech, which is integrated into its benchmark of autonomous vehicle experiments 

What stood out for us: the quality of the operators’ welcome, which may seem paradoxical since in the long term the target wants there to be no more operators on board. And yet these operators, serene and freed from the stress of driving, make the journey pleasant. They smile, they have time to interact with users and watch over us. In the end, even if we could do without them, do we really want to do without these human interactions? Or is it an opportunity to offer new services or a new user-relationship approach? In the field, we spent the morning testing the two types of shuttles, and identified their differences. One offers users a smoother ride with smoother braking, while the other provides operators with a more convenient control station. We also sifted through technological ambition and user experience. How complex are the technological objectives of this experiment? What is the feedback from the point of view of passengers, residents and operators? An example is the real-time geolocation application, which allows users to anticipate and thus promotes use of shuttles. Our full report is available in our benchmark of autonomous vehicle experiments.

This benchmark allows you to understand the current state of the art and provides decision support in your project intentions, by highlighting good practices, opportunities and mistakes not to be made. To find out more: 

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