The official public opening of the 2-year “SmartShuttle” project was carried out on June 23rd in the City of Sion, Switzerland. From now on, Sion’s inhabitants and visitors will be able to experience fully autonomous mobility as part of their daily life.
The official inauguration of the “SmartShuttle” project took place in Sion, gathering together all the project partners and the media. Following the event, the shuttles started their first day of operation, circulating the roads they will service for the next 2 years.
For the first time in Switzerland, autonomous shuttles are running in a city center and moving passengers as part of the existing transport system. The two shuttles, created by the French Tech company Navya, are part of the project led by PostBus in partnership with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne and Bestmile. The project aims to provide essential insights into the reality and challenges of integrating autonomous vehicles into urban areas. After successfully completing the first phase of testing, PostBus obtained all the necessary clearances to start the second and most exciting phase : opening the shuttles to the public.
Bestmile is providing both the fleet management platform allowing PostBus to have a real-time overview and remote control over its fleet and the passengers’ interfaces. Similar to the control tower of an airport, the fleet management platform decides in real-time which mission to send to which vehicle in order to offer the highest quality of service to the passenger in the most efficient way for the operator. In addition, empowered by new-generation algorithms developed by EPFL, the platform enables optimized dispatching and routing, charging management, maintenance planning, and emergency handling, among other functionalities
The passengers are able to follow in real time, on a dedicated phone application and interfaces at the stations, the position of the shuttle, the time remaining before the shuttle’s arrival and any relevant information about the network. Bestmile’s interfaces were specifically branded for PostBus. Bestmile’s technology enables the passengers to plan their trip using either pre-defined routes or later on, the on-demand functionality.
The two Navya vehicles perform a loop between “Place du Midi” and the cathedral in a perimeter including both pedestrian and low-speed vehicles areas. If this first introduction is conclusive, the implementation on other routes in the city of Sion will be considered.
The use of the autonomous shuttles is free and open to the public according to a flexible schedule. In a phase of introduction, the hours of operation are limited to the afternoon, from Tuesday until Sunday. Subsequent to this implementation phase, an extension of the hours of operation of the shuttles is planned. Eventually, the goal is to offer transport following a “regular” ongoing schedule.