The company EasyMile specializing in autonomous vehicles and based in Toulouse-Francazal, is authorized to test its driverless shuttle at the Oncopole by the end of 2021.
You may have already taken the EasyMile autonomous shuttle on allées Jules-Guesde. An experiment took place there a few months ago. Or, since March 2021, within the Oncopole.
This small electric vehicle is indeed being tested between the Oncopole car park and the Toulouse University Cancer Institute (IUCT-O). A 500 m journey made without a driver on board the vehicle developed by the Toulouse company located in the France business area dedicated to new mobility and Compans.
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But, on each trip, a supervising agent is at the side of the passengers, as required, for the moment, by French law: for this type of vehicle, there is no question of driving, in fact, without a manager on board. A major obstacle to the development of this type of transport which is being lifted: the Minister for Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebarri, confirmed this on November 23, during his visit to the Pink City, on the EasyMile site in Francazal. EasyMile received the first authorization for circulation on public roads in Europe for a level 4 autonomous shuttle. The EasyMile shuttle will be able to run, without a driver, at the Oncopole in Toulouse by the end of 2021.
This “authorization to operate the autonomous shuttle, now issued by the Ministry of Transition, precedes the implementation of the final regulatory framework set from September 2022”, says one at EasyMile.
The EasyMile shuttle should thus be able to circulate without a pilot and without anyone other than the only passengers going from the car park to the entrance of the IUCT-O. Probably in January 2022, after 15 days of white marching without passengers, in December.
An unprecedented authorization to travel on public roads
An unprecedented innovation in France because the route taken by the shuttle is on public roads. Until now, the Easymile shuttles were only allowed to run in complete autonomy on closed private circuits.
The company founded in 2014 by Gilbert Gagnaire has already sold dozens of its autonomous vehicles in more than 20 countries. Its driverless electric vehicles can transport up to 15 people at 20 km / h, packed with sensors (cameras, radars, lidars, GPS, etc.). EasyMile designs the software, buys the sensors and has the shuttles manufactured by Ligier. Other vehicles are being studied with Stellantis (the Peugeot-Fiat group). The company has also signed partnerships with Alstom and Continental Automotive.
President Gagnaire presented to the very interested Minister his autonomous models intended for freight transport on which he also has great hopes. The main targets are airports, industry and large logistics centers. The company, which employs 250 people, including 150 in R & D, now has 50 vacancies, from intern to doctoral student in robotics.
Vehicles for airports, BMW and Post
The health crisis and containment were a difficult period for EasyMile as for the entire sector related to vehicles and transport in general. Besides passenger transport, the company has also developed autonomous freight transport vehicles. A very heavy and very powerful small tractor (tract easy) capable of tractor and very heavy weights without effort, meets the success, according to the persons in charge of the Toulouse company, with the airports (Singapore and with Japan Airlines), of the industry (BMW factory) and logistics centers. These vehicles are capable of performing repetitive and almost automatic tasks without a driver, but also more complicated tasks on demand with a driver. Larger vehicles, the size of a truck, container ships, have also been developed for the Post Office in particular.