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Image: Renault

The first European on-road trial of a shared mobility service using autonomous vehicles is beginning near Rouen, France. The partners in this Rouen Normandy Autonomous Lab initiative are Groupe Renault, Métropole Rouen Normandie, Transdev Group and Matmut, and the on-demand service will be open for public use from September 2018.

The service will use four autonomous Renault Zoe EVs plus a Transdev/Lohr i Cristal autonomous shuttle, and will operate in Rouen’s Technopôle du Madrillet business park, Saint-Etienne du Rouvray, to connect with the Technopôle tram stop. It aims to offer a ‘first mile’ and ‘last mile’ solution for the business park; vehicles can be summoned via a smartphone app, and will run over 10km and 17 stops on three different routes to connect with the Rouen public transportation system. Vehicles will be monitored by a remote fleet control room, and passengers will have audio and video links to human operators.

The Rouen Normandy Autonomous Lab – supported by the region of Normandy and Banque des Territoires – aims to promote shared mobility in and around the city, and to build a ‘complete’ autonomous transportation system. The trial is planned to run till December 2019.

Driverless deliveries in the US

Nuro-7-300x226 Image: Kroger

Meanwhile in the USA, another 'first' has been announced: the Kroger supermarket chain will shortly launch a trial of driverless delivery vehicles, in partnership with Silicon Valley robotics firm Nuro. This will begin later this autumn, using the Nuro R1 low-speed electric van and Nuro's hardware and software. Kroger customers can select the option of an unmanned delivery when ordering groceries online, can track the vehicle's progress via an app, and will receive a code for access to its load compartment.

-Farah Alkhalisi