At a news conference at CES 2019, Torc Robotics and mobility specialists Transdev announced that they were partnering up to develop a fully autonomous electric shuttle platform.
They hope their platform will serve as an essential part of the self-driving infrastructure currently being developed in cities around the world.
Torc is licensing its self-driving software stack and suite of driving sensors, which they call Asimov, for use in the i-Cristal autonomous shuttle.
Torc and Transdev know that smaller cars and shuttles are going to be at the forefront of deployment for Self-Driving technology and their hope is to be a key player in the transition to a future of autonomous mobility.
The Future of Mass Transit?
Yann Leriche, Transdev North America CEO, says that “We believe that public transport will lead and be the first place real autonomous services will be developed. With Torc’s expertise in autonomous technology, we will accelerate our capability to develop innovative solutions.”
Autonomous shuttles like the i-Cristal are likely to play an essential role in urban transportation infrastructure in the next few years, especially in Asia where transportation infrastructure is being more aggressively upgraded.
Transdev introduced the i-Cristal back in 2018 alongside Lohr, the French industrial firm with half a century of industrial vehicle manufacturing experience.
The i-Cristal is a SAE Level 4 vehicle, meaning that it is fully-autonomous in select areas, such as dedicated traffic lanes.
It has a maximum capacity of 16 passengers and was built with interior design, accessibility, and the passenger experience as the essential features of the vehicle.
Testing Underway in France
Together, Torc and Transdev have begun testing the new system on closed courses in France. Should these tests prove successful, testing on public roads will follow once safety authorizations are obtained by the governing municipalities of Paris-Saclay and Rouen in France.
In Paris, the shuttles will use a dedicated, unprotected lane to offer ride-share service between the Massy transit station and the Paris-Saclay campus, during nighttime and off-peak hours.
The shuttles in Rouen will run on public roads and provide a connection between the business park and the local tramway station.
Should these tests succeed, Torc and Transdev hope to integrate fleets of i-Cristal shuttles into already existing public transportation systems and networks, offering a wider range of service, coverage, and availability for the public.
How the Torc and Transdev Partnership Will Improve Transportation
Since 2005, Torc has been developing self-driving technologies in off-road as well as on-road conditions, making them ideally suited to partner with Transdev.
Torc has seen its Asimov system installed in the Lexus RX and Chrysler Pacifica already and the vehicles have been successfully tested in 20 states, using both public roads and closed courses, and have suffered no accidents.
Able to navigate urban traffic with its customary aggressive drivers, detours, and other environmental challenges, this is quite an accomplishment.
Transdev, meanwhile, has been a mobility leader for many years, providing up to 11 million daily passenger trips in 20 countries. Their fleet of autonomous vehicles hahaso far logged over a million combined miles in France, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, and the United States.
“With autonomous transport services,” says Leriche, “we aim to develop flexible, clean and accessible mobility solutions to empower passengers to move freely.