Delphi set to launch truly driverless taxi service in France next year

09 June 2017

Delphi set to launch truly driverless taxi service in France next year

09 June 2017

Delphi Automotive is set to launch one of the first self-driving commercial taxi services without human backup drivers, in partnership with French multinational bus and rail mass transit operator Transdev in France. Transdev will supply the vehicle-routing software and Delphi the radar and lidar (distance-sensing) systems, as well as cameras from Intel’s Mobileye.

Two pilot projects will be developed this year, with passengers transported from a train station in each city to a final destination. The first, in Rouen in Normandy, will use two Renault Zoe electric vehicles, and is where Transdev launched an on-demand ride-hailing service earlier this year. Delphi says the Normandy service will allow the partners to road-test the entire system, including dispatch, remote control and the sensors used on the vehicles.

The second project, in Paris, will involve one shuttle (initially a reconfigured minivan, but eventually an electric shuttle or bus), which will carry people to the Paris-Saclay tech hub and campus. Both services will be on real roads in real traffic.

From the very start, the shuttle will not have a steering wheel or pedals, and the humans inside will be there purely to communicate with passengers. The vehicles will stop at predetermined stops and be monitored from a central control room.

Delphi’s chief technology officer Glen De Vos says a central dispatch centre will be on standby to take control of the vehicle at any time. He added: ‘We're confident that in the event they would need to intervene, they can.’

Both pilot projects will begin this year with the intention of going fully autonomous in 2018.

Delphi is also planning to launch a similar service in Singapore this year, and De Vos revealed the company is additionally scouting for locations in the US to conduct a similar test.

He adds that it is expected the Delphi-Transdev collaboration will go through several iterations of self-driving software and systems before launching a fully operational commercial French operation in 2019.

Transdev plans to gradually spread the technology throughout Paris and other cities in which it operates. It has transportation services in 19 countries, including the US.

Chief performance officer at Transdev, Yann Leriche, says that while it may take a while for people to gain trust to use the service, he does not expect this to be a problem. He reveals Transdev has surveyed autonomous shuttle test users regarding the quality of the service, and more than 90% have been enthusiastic. He added: ‘They were not afraid of the fact that there was no driver.’

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