Connected vehicles, which are on the rise thanks to recent technological advances, have enormous potential when it comes to improving the daily life of city-dwellers, in particular in France.
Urban areas are currently undergoing significant transformation in terms of technology, in particular regarding transport, which is changing thanks to progress that has been made in recent years in autonomy and connectivity. Following in the footsteps of US driverless vehicle pioneers such as Tesla and Google, French companies are now starting to appear, including one which is focused on designing innovative shuttles.
Driverless French shuttles
Navya, a company founded by Christophe Sapet in 2014 and which specialises in developing driverless electric vehicles, launched its "autonom shuttles" in 2015. Going by the name of Navya Arma, they feature cameras and sensors which can judge distances, making them capable of running without a driver.
Since June, the Navya Arma has been undergoing tests around the Esplanade de la Défense outside Paris. While there is currently an operator on board to ensure that the vehicle moves around as it should, the test phase has almost been completed – with a great deal of success. 35,000 users over the past four months have registered satisfaction levels of 97%, according to an IFOP survey. The Navya shuttles are set to become a permanent fixture around La Défense, before expanding on a national and international level.
Connected two-wheelers – a simple and eco-friendly solution
Two-wheelers will not be left out by the march of progress, with an ever-increasing number of connected, electric and free-to-hire bikes and scooters appearing in French cities. In Paris, UK company Pony Bikes has set up a network of bicycles with smart locks that users can locate via an app, enabling them to be parked anywhere and thus making them more practical than the Vélib’ free-to-hire bikes. Around 100 of these bicycles are set to be tested out on the streets of Paris next October.
Meanwhile, Parisians have had 1,500 scooters available for use since 2014 courtesy of CityScoot. They are free-to-hire, locatable and can be booked via an app, and can also be locked and unlocked using a smartphone, which means that they too can be parked anywhere around the city.
Connected vehicles becoming more widespread
While these various connected means of transport will still be at the test stage for a number of months to come, if not more, they are already highly popular among city-dwellers in Paris and in general throughout France.
And although there is still room for traditional vehicles as things stand, it is clear that driverless shuttles and connected bikes and scooters will become more and more common on our streets over the years to come.
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