Originally published on CleanTechnica.
By Nicolas Zart
A long battle in Montréal (Canada) between two international bus companies with a penchant towards autonomous e-mobility has finally ended. The Keolis et Transdev (Keolis vs Transdev) is over for now, as Keolis was selected to deploy its autonomous electric minibus. It will test its Navya shuttle for one year in real-life conditions.
The vice-president of commercialisation and marketing officer of Keolis Canada, Marie-Hélène Cloutier, confirmed that the year-long pilot project will test the autonomous electric Navya shuttle under winter conditions on a one-kilometer route, with real passengers in a real-life environment in the city of Terrebonne. This is also perfect timing since the Union Internationale des Transports Publics (UITP) conference starts there.
The Electric Autonomous Keolis Navya
The Electric autonomous Keolis Navya will be used in a trendy and green-savvy neighborhood called Urbanova, itself also a project, per se. We previously wrote about a Las Vegas Keolis project, now running between Las Vegas Boulevard and 8th Street. But in Canada, the projects will last longer and be part of the overall Leolis transportation map.
The autonomous electric Keolis Navya shuttle will connect residents to the major bus station, also run by Keolis. This testing phase will happen in an ideal environment for this type of mobility system. Real-world implementation is the best way to field test a product and its fairly new autonomous technology. Since the testing period will last one year, both the manufacturer and bus system operators will be able to evaluate autonomous electric shuttles under wide-ranging climatic conditions — cold winters to warmer summer periods.
The Electric Autonomous Keolis Navya, Technically Speaking
The autonomous Navya will be able to carry 15 passengers with a top speed of 25 km/h — although, it is capable of traveling at up to 45 km/h.
As far as the company, Navya has serious backing investments from Robolution Capital, CapDecisif Management of the FRCI Fund (Fonds Régional de Co-investissement de la Région Ile de France), and investment holding company GRAVITATION, a group of “Business Angels” and company employees.
But the other company, Transdev, didn’t back down either. It started testing its own electric autonomous shuttle, called the EasyMile, on May 12 on the esplanade du Stade olympique in Montreal. Its testing phase will only be for a few weeks, though.
All in all, the Navya and EasyMile projects are underway internationally and looking at the viability of connecting passengers on short routes to bigger mass transportation hubs. The Navya project follows another successful one in Lyon, France, called project Confluence, where two electric autonomous Navya shuttles have also been put into a real-life testing scenario with passengers since September 2016. What has been particularly of interest to this project is that the electric autonomous Navya were driving amongst trucks, cars, cyclists, and pedestrians without incidents.
According to Patrick Gilloux President and Chief Operating Officer of Keolis Canada: “The UITP Summit is the perfect venue at which to present the product, which offers a solution for the initial and final stages of a trip.
“We believe that electric vehicles represent the future of public transit, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to test this new autonomous vehicle here as a Canadian first. The enthusiasm for the project is already contagious.”
And Christophe Sapet, NAVYA’s CEO, added: “we look forward to the Montreal demonstration of this product, which is a viable response to the problems faced by cities today: congestion, pollution, and parking.”
It’s obvious there is a place for electric autonomous shuttles and both the Keolis Navya and the Transdev’s EasyMile are the precursors to our mass transit landscaper tomorrow.
Reprinted with permission.