The A63 will serve well as an experimentation area for autonomous vehicles. In October, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Regional Council announced its financial support for the project by financing half of the overall investment of 1.5 million euros. “Despite a few months of delay, linked to the fact that we were part of the New Aquitaine Region’s Call for expression of interest for innovative mobility, we are now preparing to accelerate “, comments André Perpey, Managing Director of the Gironde company NeoGLS, which is piloting the program. “The 2015 ITS congress, which launched the idea of creating a life-size experimentation area, will not make a fuss “ is delighted, for his part, Cedrik Ferrero, associate director of Geosat, based in Pessac.
Proof of concept by March 2022
Concretely, the experimentation area will therefore be developed on the A63 between Saugnac-et-Muret and Labouheyre, ie over thirty kilometers in the Landes. The project to create a high level of service experimentation zone (ZEHNS), initially called Luna, will take place in two stages. The first step will be to validate the proof of concept by March 2022, including the evaluation. From January to June 2021, the communicating boxes manufactured by NeoGLS (formerly Geoloc Systems) will be deployed by the Atlandes concessionaire on the side of the road. There will be between 20 and 30 to make sure the vehicle still has access to the information.
“We use a technology that allows short-distance communication between the infrastructure connected to the traffic management system and the vehicle also equipped with a communicating box that will receive the information, interpret it and use it in his vehicle for driving. autonomously on the highway “, explains André Perpey .
Beyond the deployment of the equipment, it still remains for NeoGLS to develop the software that will provide the data necessary for the use cases planned within the framework of this experiment, to have :
- the toll so that the truck or autonomous light vehicle can approach and pass safely;
- interchanges where the vehicle will have to slow down to enter or exit;
- rest areas;
- obstacles, mainly works.
A profitable model envisaged in the long term
Contrary to what had been envisaged, the idea of platooning, which consists of connecting several trucks connected to each other, is no longer on the agenda. “It is no longer a priority at European level “, specifies André Perpey. It is therefore a question of running heavy goods vehicles alone, or even light vehicles, the objective being that then the road as a whole is approved and becomes a high level of service experimentation area (ZEHNS), that is, that is, a test area for autonomous vehicles on the open road.
“There are test areas on closed roads, but not on open roads, except in the United States. Hence our positioning in this niche”, explains André Perpey.
Because, once the technical validation has been carried out, it will be a question of selling slots to entities wishing to conduct experiments, in particular manufacturers of autonomous vehicles. A structure will then be created. “The ZEHNS will offer environments with a high level of service (connected, cooperative, mapping with high definition, etc.) and evaluation methodologies”, specifies the consortium (NeoGLS, Geosat, Atlandes, University Gustave Eiffel) created within the framework of this project.
A step for NeoGLS and Geosat
If R&D is still necessary, for NeoGLS, this project constitutes an important step:
“We are already a benchmark in terms of connected vehicles. It is also a question of being so for the tests of autonomous vehicles. It is the same way of communicating the data, but we go further in terms of precision and robustness. , security, “says André Perpey.
For Geosat, which will provide very precise 3D road mapping, the stakes are also crucial:
“The whole idea of the experimentation sites is to come and compare and improve the work of our R&D unit made up of 13 researchers who will be able to show power on all the artificial intelligence they create. Today we need to go beyond our demonstrations and simulations. This project, in particular, will allow us to certify and industrialize our processes “, explains Cedrik Ferraro.
The first autonomous vehicles should be able to run in 2021, with a driver behind the wheel.