France: Autonomous Shuttles to Address Lack of Rural Transport

A consortium consisting of beti, Macif, Navya and VINCI Construction’s subsidiary, SVMS has been awarded the French government’s Automated Road Mobility tender (Appel à Projets Mobilités Routières Automatisées) that aims to improve transport in rural France.

This tender was launched as part of the French government’s 4th Investment of the Future Programme (PIA4) in response to 85 percent of the rural population of France not having direct access to public transportation.

Rural Transport
The joint project will provide the Crest Val de Drôme rural area with an Inclusive Automated Mobility Network (Réseau Inclusif de Mobilité Automatisé or RIMA)

To help overcome this issue, the consortium will provide an inclusive mobility option to people and goods in rural areas.

This will initially involve rolling out seven autonomous vehicles, four of which will be driverless, over an area of 50 kilometres-squared in the Crest Val de Drôme rural area of France.

Benjamin Beaudet, Managing Director of Beti, said:

“Our ambition is to attract people and businesses back to the regions by introducing innovative mobility solutions that integrate seamlessly in the existing road networks, while providing a service.

“Autonomous mobility will also combat insecurity in terms of access to public services, employment, culture and shopping, which has always been our driving force. Along with our partners, who are all well known for their commitment to sustainable, shared and inclusive mobility, we will apply ourselves with professionalism and passion to prove that autonomous mobility has a guaranteed future in the regions.”

The members of the consortium will collaborate to deliver a turnkey solution in the Crest Val de Drôme region, including the development of the self-driving shuttles, construction of the required infrastructure and the operation of the service.

beti, an automated mobility network operator, will be in charge of acquiring and operating the vehicle fleet. These beti shuttles will be equipped with Navya Drive autonomous driving packs and will be supervised by Navya once they commence service.

Meanwhile, VINCI Construction’s subsidiary SVMS (Signature Vertical & Mobility Solutions) will be in charge of engineering, production and maintenance of infrastructure and road signs.

In addition, mobility insurance company, Macif will insure the shuttles and analyse the acceptability level of the driverless network.

Sophie Desormière, CEO of Navya, said:

“Mobility is a universal fundamental right and it’s essential that the transition toward sustainable models fosters progress that is not only environmental but also societal. Envisioning the future of mobility means adopting a solution that is green, shared and inclusive. 85% of the rural population of France has no other choice but to use their private cars to get about. With self-driving shuttles we are now in a position to provide a tangible alternative to solo driving, not only in towns, but also in rural areas.”

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