French automaker Renault is preparing to launch a pilot public transportation program with self-driving cars in its home country.
Cars will operate in the city of Rouen, in France’s Normandy region. Renault, which is very bullish on autonomous cars, is completing final testing and hopes to have the pilot service up and running by September. The program will through December 2019.
At launch, the pilot will include four Renault Zoe electric cars modified with autonomous-driving systems developed with help from partner company Transdev, and one i-Cristal autonomous shuttle vehicle, developed by Transdev and Lohr. The vehicles will operate on three routes covering a distance of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), in Rouen’s Technopôle du Madrillet business park, with 17 stops including one at a tram station.
Users will be able to hail one of the cars via an app, and the fleet will be monitored by a central dispatcher. If a problem occurs, the dispatcher will have the ability to “reduce the speed of vehicles or bring them to a halt,” according to a Renault press release. Renault also said that “audio and video communications between passengers and the control room will be possible at any time.” A human safety driver will be seated at the controls of each vehicle, with an engineer in the front or rear passenger seat to monitor operations.
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