© Clément Aubourg

100% autonomous driving with no operator (No Op), a worldwide first that Keolis is continuing to develop

© Clément Aubourg
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PostedDEC. 18, 2023
Words byKeolis
Launching a fleet of 100% autonomous shuttles with no operators? A worldwide first and a feat achieved by Keolis and its partner EasyMile on the SEMA autonomous mobility testing site in Châteauroux.

Context: No Op, a futuristic project

The development of Level 4 “No Op” vehicles represents an ambitious goal for shared mobility: it offers new ways to improve the passenger experience and can solve issues caused by driver shortages. After the launch of Level 3 autonomous shuttles for Groupama Stadium in Lyon, Keolis now aims to expand the use of no operator vehicles in all types of traffic. Level 4 autonomy tests are an essential step in preparing for these vehicles’ future on the roads in total safety.

© Clément Aubourg

© Clément Aubourg

Innovation: 3rd generation autonomous shuttles tested at SEMA

Based in France, EasyMile, the global leader in smart mobility solutions and no operator technology, is currently the only company that has achieved the level of safety necessary to develop No Op for public transit. Since 2021, Keolis has been testing two of EasyMile’s 3rd generation fully autonomous shuttles. The trials, which notably focusing on the navigation software and safety systems, are carried out at SEMA, in the National Shooting Center (CNTS) of Châteauroux, a unique private site that is closed to vehicle traffic, offering the ideal testing conditions.

EasyMile: the only company authorized to develop No Op for public transport


month of experimentation of No Op at SEMA

2 800

kms in level 4

As part of these trials on December 6th 2022, the two autonomous shuttles transported visitors for the first time on the CNTS site, during the inauguration of a new building. Working from a supervision center in Paris, a Keolis agent maintained the ability to stop and restart the vehicle at any time. Passengers also had the opportunity to communicate with the supervisor through a system of intercoms and camaras installed in the vehicle.

No Op test at SEMA
No Op test at SEMA

The benefits of No Op demonstrated in total safety

During several sports events hosted by the CNTS shooting center, EasyMile’s autonomous shuttles will transported spectators and athletes between the main parking lot and the shooting booths. This was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of No Op… in total safety, thanks to a control centre set up on site and piloted by the local subsidiary of Keolis Châteauroux.

No Op test at SEMA

EasyMile's autonomous shuttles transport spectators and athletes to sporting events hosted by the CSTC.

Next steps: rolling out autonomous vehicles in downtown areas

In partnership with 5 other major mobility players - Alstom, EasyMile, Equans, Renault Group and StatInf - Keolis is preparing the launch of a new level 4 automated public transport service (with no on-board operator) that is carbon-free. With a fleet of 6-metre electric minibuses fully integrated into the Châteauroux Métropole "Horizon" public transport network, this service will complete the local public transport offer in 2026, making mobility easier, safer and more sustainable for citizens.

Winner of France 2030's call for projects entitled "Automated road mobility, connected and low-carbon service infrastructures", this project, called Mach2, has received the support of the French Ministry for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, as well as BPI France, the public innovation financing bank.

In this project, Keolis is providing all its expertise, from the definition of vehicle requirements to the operation and maintenance of the service. Keolis will thus be the first operator to use this new generation of autonomous vehicles in France, especially in the ambitious context of mixed traffic on open roads in Châteauroux town centre.

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