4 autonomous vehicles on a road at SEMA

At SEMA, Keolis is testing out the future of autonomous vehicles

Autonomous vehicles at SEMA
Share on
PostedJUN. 22, 2022
Words byKeolis
The Autonomous Mobility Testing Site (SEMA), the only one of its kind in the global transport industry, offers Keolis the perfect conditions to test – in the same place – many different models of autonomous vehicles with no operator.

Context: A transition towards “No Op” autonomous driving

The autonomous mobility services of Keolis have transported more than 210,000 people worldwide: in Montreal, Renmark in Australia, Lille, Rennes and Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. The goal: autonomous driving with no operator (“No Op”) which requires thorough testing, notably to ensure remote supervision of the autonomous vehicle, communication with passengers and also the management of automatic and maintenance alerts.

Innovation: SEMA, a testing site dedicated to autonomous vehicles

To carry out these tests, a space dedicated to autonomous driving in real situations was set up on the site of the National Shooting Sports Center (CNTS) near Châteauroux in central France. This “Autonomous Mobility Testing Site” (SEMA) – which makes Keolis a pioneering transport operator on the world stage – comprises 78 hectares (193 acres) of sports facilities and nearly 5 km of road. It offers the perfect conditions for storing, recharging and resting a wide variety of autonomous vehicles.

A variety of tracks make it possible to test vehicles in different traffic conditions, including in: rural areas, intersections, connected traffic lights, indoor tracks, parking lots and bottlenecks. A testing area and predefined scenarios allow teams to test the various autonomous vehicle technologies offered by carmakers and to train Keolis teams on different vehicles in safe conditions.

4 autonomous vehicles on a road at SEMA
4 autonomous vehicles on a road at SEMA

Benefits: strengthening expertise to prepare for future rollouts

There are currently 5 levels of vehicle autonomy: starting with level 4, there is no need for an operator on board. This is the level that Keolis is testing with different vehicles at SEMA.

The Group is strengthening its expertise on the road to full autonomy. A vehicle is said to be fully autonomous when it is equipped with a secure automated driving system requiring no human intervention, it can transport passengers in total safety and it does not pose a threat to other road users.

While training teams of operators and supervisors in autonomous vehicles, these tests help to better understand the operation of each technology and to test the limits of their operational applications. With SEMA, Keolis is notably in touch with autonomous vehicle makers so that their new models can be tested and evaluated, notably in preparation for future calls for bids.


Thumb ok

hours of road time at SEMA



Thumb ok

traveled on the testing site


Thumb ok

types of vehicles tested

Next steps: operational services starting in 2022

The EasyMile Gen 3 autonomous shuttles have been running in “No Op” mode on the SEMA site since the beginning of 2022. This has been the first operational “No Op” service for Keolis. As part of the French SAM project, financed by ADEME, this first project for full autonomy with passengers has been placed in service during competitions, notably for the Paralympic Shooting World Championship, which took place in June 2022 at the National Shooting Sports Center (CNTS). Finally, Keolis will be the first operator to test an autonomous version of the 6-meter Bluebus by Bolloré, in order to greenlight its development.

3 autonomous vehicles on a road at SEMA
3 autonomous vehicles on a road at SEMA

EasyMile and Navya shuttles hit the mark at the 2022 World Shooting Para Sport World Cup 


Keolis provided a smart mobility service to the participants of the World Shooting Para Sport World Championship, which took place at the National Sport Shooting Center (CNTS) in Châteauroux from June 7 to 12, 2022. During these six days, a fleet of three autonomous vehicles (EasyMile and Navya) were put to use to help participants and their assistants access the events. Among them were 16 wheelchair-users. 


The EasyMile and Navya shuttles made more than 700 trips of 1.8 km in length, while the Autofleet fleet optimization platform helped to synchronize the routes of all three shuttles.  


The results for Keolis and the CNTS are very positive. From a technical point of view, the interoperability of the shuttles of different brands, their respective speeds and their safety behavior were closely monitored during the tests. The results were very satisfactory over the 19 hours of daily operation of the fleet, which allows Keolis experts to assess the system for future commercial services. On the customer side, the CNTS and users, including disabled athletes, were also very satisfied with the service: the shuttles allowed them their own space, with the operator being present only to reassure them and explain how the autonomous vehicles work.  

Clément Beaune, French Minister of Transport, visiting SEMA
Clément Beaune, French Minister of Transport, visiting SEMA

Innovation 2023: An autonomous On-Demand Transport service on the SEMA site


Keolis has developed and is trialling an autonomous transport-on-demand service on the SEMA with its EasyMile shuttles.

A specific tool, developed by its partner - Autofleet - is used to receive requests from users, process them and dispatch them to the vehicles. Users use an application to order a journey from one stop to another along the route. The journey is sent to the fleet management software, which automatically allocates it to an available vehicle, depending on the request (requested route, route of shuttles in use, number of passengers, etc.).

Shuttles that have no journeys to make are parked in waiting refuge areas, where the vehicles do not impede traffic, and can quickly be put back on the route autonomously.

On the SEMA, Keolis has already operated more than 440 km in transport-on-demand mode using two EasyMile shuttles, for a total of 124 hours of service.

Keep up to date with all the latest innovation news from the Keolis group by subscribing to our newsletter.