Autonomous shuttles pass the second in the agglomeration of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. Slowly but surely, the small electric vehicle circulates among the cars and drops you from the station to your business. All without a driver.
Inaugurated this Wednesday in Montigny-le-Bretonneux (Yvelines), the new line 490 of the Ile-de-France Mobilités network serves three stops in the Pas-du-Lac activity zone, over 1.6 kilometers: the station of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Newton and Newton-Niepce. And for the first time, these minibuses fit directly into general traffic.
While teleworking is the rule at the moment, there are not many people in the Pas-du-Lac activity zone. Olivier, an employee at the Banque Populaire, only comes once a week on site. His work seven minutes walk from the station, he says he is ready to take the minibus when he finds a “normal life”: “When I return to the restaurant with my colleagues, that will prevent us from taking the car. “
A free service, provided from Monday to Friday
Between those who go to do their shopping and those who eat lunch outside, the thirty-something sees a lot of traffic at midday, “if that helps to unclog the area, so much the better”. And then at the moment the weather is fine, but “in winter if it rains heavily, it will be practical”.
Precisely, “the idea is to make life easier for 2,500 workers in the activity zone,” emphasizes Valérie Pécresse. For the president of the Ile-de-France region who made the trip, “these shuttles will make it possible to do the last kilometer”.
Travelers move at 8 km / h but the machine can reach 20 km / h. Free, the service operates Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. In rush hour, it runs every eight minutes. Outside, allow 17 minutes between each pass.
A 2.4 million euros project
After several more or less conclusive experiments in La Défense (Hauts-de-Seine), Rungis and Vincennes (Val-de-Marne), the service is being studied for a year and a half in this area of activity. If the experience turns out to be positive, it will be extended.
Funded by Ile-de-France Mobilités to the tune of 2.4 million euros, this vehicle developed by Keolis was developed by the French company Navya. A little gem of technology, it is equipped with sensors, cameras and a geolocation system to safely cross three roundabouts, a departmental road and a crossroads.
“The shuttle can carry eleven seated people plus a security operator, always on board to intervene at any time,” explains Christophe Sanglier, project manager at Keolis. Outside of the health context, a maximum of fifteen travelers are transported. Adapted to users with reduced mobility, the machine has a ramp for people in wheelchairs.
Automatic shutdown in the event of an obstacle
Even if it is not a racing car, beware of the braking which can be powerful. “If it detects a car on the roundabout to be crossed, the shuttle stops automatically, it does not have priority over the others”, specifies Christophe Sanglier. Each seat has a seat belt, “it is recommended but not compulsory”.
Intelligent, the autonomous vehicle does not yet know how to manage all situations on its own. “For example, it will stop when a delivery truck is improperly parked or a car protrudes from its parking spot. In these cases, the operator manually drives the shuttle with a joystick.
Map of the route with the time of arrival at the next stop, timetables in real time on the Ile-de-France Mobilités application… “It is the same level of service quality as the existing bus lines. “
Valérie Pécresse, who hopes that employees will return to work by the fall, has “good hope” that this experiment will become common. It is eventually imagining shuttles on demand, especially in rural areas.