An autonomous shuttle will run on the A10 motorway

An autonomous shuttle will run on the A10 motorway

2023-09-13 18:14:02

Imagine yourself on the A10, near the Saint-Arnoult toll gate (Yvelines). You took your place in an electric mini-car, alongside thirteen other passengers, after leaving your car in a parking lot on the side of the highway. The electric vehicle slipped easily into the heavy morning traffic. He now speeds at 90 km/h among the cars and heavy goods vehicles, before blithely overtaking them, on the last section, the most congested, using a short but precious reserved lane.

Imagine. There is no one in the driver’s seat. Not even a safety operator, likely to take over the wheel in the event of an unforeseen difficulty. Relax… Everything has been planned, everything has been tested, for three years, so that the automated and connected shuttle will take you safely to Massy (Essonne), where you will take a TGV or jump on an RER at destination Paris.

A 25 kilometer route

This scenario, which we reveal here, is not fiction. As part of a project called Mob-Auto, included in the fourth future investment plan, two shuttles of this type will enter service in the first half of 2026 on the 25 kilometers of the line which connects the multimodal hub of Longvilliers (Yvelines) to Massy station, via Briis-sous-Forges.

This line, which 3,000 passengers use every day, is today served exclusively by double-decker coaches, with a capacity of 80 seats each, with a frequency of passage every four minutes, early in the morning, when concentrates the majority of departures for work. The future automated shuttle will not replace this service, operated by the transporter Savac, partner of the project, but will complement it. With a dual objective: to absorb peaks in attendance during peak hours and to adjust the offer at the slowest times of the day.

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Informed in real time about traffic conditions

Mob-Auto, which is therefore entering a three-year experimental phase, constitutes “a world first in several respects, welcomes Pierre Delaigue, director of autonomous, connected and electric mobility at Vinci Autoroutes. No autonomous vehicle without an operator travels at 90 km/h, especially on motorways, and even less so in the context of regular passenger transport.”

The role of its teams consists of providing the shuttle, in real time, via a type of Wi-Fi, with information on the occurrence of an accident, the formation of a traffic jam or even the presence of an animal. “It will also be a matter of notifying him that the barrier is raised or lowered, continues Pierre Delaigue. Crossing a toll barrier, taking an access ramp, taking into account a work zone are all challenges for an automated vehicle,” he insists.

Dealing with incidents

“In the event of an incident, the shuttle will be able to park on the emergency lane”specifies Frédéric Mathis, president of Milla, the group which designs and manufactures this vehicle based on a structure (chassis, engine and battery) of an electric Renault Master.

“French law prohibits remote driving. But an operator, from our supervision center, will be able to take control to carry out safety maneuvers, reassure passengers, if necessary open the doors, etc. he emphasizes. If necessary, a driver must be able to be transported to the site within a short period of time, which remains to be determined. »

France a pioneer in the field of automated shuttles

Milla which, with the other French companies Navya and Easy Mile, is a pioneer in the field of connected shuttles (read the benchmarks) intends to produce up to 1,000 vehicles per year at its Le Mans (Sarthe) and Buc (Yvelines) sites by 2030. Mass-produced, the 14-seater vehicle could cost between €320,000 and €350,000. A price that Frédéric Mathis says “comparable to that of a non-automated electric bus”.

Its goal is to see its shuttles fully participate in the fight against “autosolism” – the fact of driving alone in your car. “At the height of congestion, removing 10% of vehicles allows you to gain, depending on the situation, 40 to 60% in fluidity and travel time, insists Professor Nour-Eddin El Faouzi, specialist in traffic engineering at Gustave-Eiffel University. This avoids concertina traffic, with a particularly polluting alternation of acceleration and braking. continues this academic.

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He is responsible for evaluating with his team the performance of the shuttle, the changes in behavior it induces in other road users, the effectiveness of the incentives addressed to motorists likely to leave the car in the parking lot to benefit from this new service.

The highway represents 6 to 7% of greenhouse gas emissions

Operating half of the concessioned motorway network, Vinci includes Mob-Auto in its decarbonization strategy, which also involves the creation of carpooling parking lots and the installation of electric charging stations at all its service areas. There is urgency, recognizes Pierre Delaigue: “The motorway is responsible for 6 to 7% of greenhouse gas emissions in France. »

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