EPFL Campus Hosts Fleet of Six Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous shuttles are travelling everyday on the EPFL campus for a real-life trial. The fleet is managed remotely and in real time thanks to the software created by BestMile, a Lausanne based start-up.

© Alain Herzog/EPFL

The EPFL campus hosts from April 16th to June 30th 2015 a fleet of six autonomous vehicles as part of the CityMobil2 project. This project, co-financed by the European commission, aims to complement the existing public transport solutions by providing innovative solutions answering the “last mile” problematic. Designed in France, these driverless shuttles are being operated by the EPFL start-up BestMile.

The project was inaugurated at EPFL in the presence of Simonetta Sommaruga, president of the Swiss Confederation and François Hollande, President of France.

Founded in February 2014, and based at the EPFL Innovation Park, BestMile develops a fleet management software allowing to shape these driverless vehicles into a safe and efficient public transport system. The software allows the design of trajectories, schedules as well as the dimensioning of an autonomous transport system. Once the vehicles are in operation, the software acts as a brain optimizing in real-time the movement of each shuttle and remotely managing timetables, delays, crossing and alerting operations personnel in case of need. Additionally the software provides reporting tools allowing detailed information on the system’s overall performance.

The CityMobil2 demonstration marks the first milestone in the development of the software: the successful operation of this project is an important step towards the commercialisation of BestMile’s technology. In parallel, BestMile will be working on the development of an on-demand system allowing users to request a shuttle directly from their smartphone.

The autonomous shuttles, able to transport 10 people at a time, are supplied by the French company EasyMile, born from a joint venture between the manufacturer Ligier and the robotics company Robosoft. From Monday to Friday, the autonomous vehicles will serve the EPFL campus, from the metro station to the Innovation Park, via the Rolex Learning Center. The service is free of charge and open for all. On board, no driver, but students who will take turns to welcome passengers and answer their questions.

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