The shuttle, provided by the company MILLA, was presented at the Mobility Day event organized by thecamp and the Pôle d’Activités of Aix-en-Provence Business Association.
When you say you’re working on an electric, self-driving shuttle, people tend to have a lot of questions. Here are answers to the ones most frequently asked about Demoiselle!
What’s the Demoiselle shuttle?
It’s one possible answer to the question: what public transportation can we offer in rural and suburban areas? These are places where often the only choice is a personal car.
The Demoiselle experiment aims to show that a self-driving vehicle powered by renewable energy can make trips on unusual terrain, can offer a real alternative to cars and offer a collective mobility service in these zones. To make public transportation more attractive, we’re also working on offering a totally new travel experience to users.
The experiment is a collective effort, with contributors from the public and private sectors: the primary partners are thecamp, Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropole, SNCF Gares & Connexions, Association des entreprises du Pôle d’Activités d’Aix-en-Provence, Artelia, Dev-id, New Cap and MILLA. We also work with institutions that have transport expertise (CEREMA, IFSTTAR) and the academic world (AMU, Centrale Marseille…).
What route will it serve?
Demoiselle will travel beween the Aix-en-Provence TGV station and Aix La Duranne, including thecamp and the Technopôle de l’Arbois. But it won’t take the main highway (D9) – instead, it will take smaller roads including one that runs through the pine forest and is unpaved! By using this route, we aim to show that this kind of service is possible in a varied and rural environment. The total trip is 10 km (6.2 miles).
By the end of the experiment in June 2021, the goal is to extend the service zone (dotted lines above).
How long will the trip take?
It will take around 20-25 minutes. In self-driving mode, the shuttle can go 30-50 km/h (roughly 20-30 mph). With a driver, it will be able to travel at the speed of a normal car. And remember, the route goes through the forest, not on the highway.
When will it be in service? (In other words, when can I test it out?)
In January 2020, the Demoiselle will start making its first trips. For the first phase, the shuttle will only be serving companies that are members of the Demoiselle association.
The goal is to open up the service to local passengers later in the experiment, which will run through June 2021. How it goes will determine what happens next, whether the shuttle becomes part of the local transport system for example, and how it can be used as a model in other locations.
The goal is to allow the general public to ride the shuttle later in the experiment, which will continue through June 2021. The results of the experiment will determine what happens next: if it’s a success, it will be integrated into the Metropole’s public transportation network. It could also be replicated in other areas of the Metropole.
Will the Demoiselle shuttle really have no driver?
That’s the idea! But it’s still in a testing phase. The automation will be introduced in stages as the experiment continues, and there will be a “safety driver” in the shuttle to have a dialogue with users.
How many people can travel in the Demoiselle at once?
It can hold 5 passengers, plus the safety driver.
What about the innovative travel experience for passengers, what will that look like?
We’re working hard on it – stay tuned!
By the way, why is it called “Demoiselle”?
It’s the name of a endangered species of dragonfly native to this area – a reminder of why we need to develop environmentally friendly ways to get around.
Click here to more about the Demoiselle and see a full list of the experimentation partners.