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First test of driverless minibus conducted in Paris

media The electric-powered driverless EZ10 minibus carried out its first test on the banks of the river Seine under the Pont-Neuf bridge on Saturday. Eric Feferberg/AFP

French tech firm Easymile carried out a test of its electric-powered driverless minibus on the pedestrian road under Pont Neuf along the Seine river in Paris on Saturday.

Easymile teamed up with the French capital’s transport authority RATP to run the EZ10 minibus.

The vehicle, able to travel at 25 kilometres per hour and carry up to 12 passengers, has already been tested on closed circuits in Japan, Singapore and California and in a road test in Helsinki.

Manuel Chaufrein of BMCP told RFI that this was the first of a series to tests to be carried out in Paris in 2016 and 2017. “The objective is to demonstrate the feasibility to integrate such vehicles in the Paris transport system,” he said.

The vehicle is able to drive by itself because of the use of GPS tracking system, a visual guidance, a collision detection system as well as simultaneous localization and mapping. It also uses light detection and ranging technique.

“The vehicle is calculated for an approximate range of 120 km. Depending on the weather condition, number of people on board and the road gradient, the vehicle can run for between eight to 12 hours,” Chaufrein said.

He said that the minibuses are not an alternative to city buses but are a complimentary solution to metro and existing bigger buses.

“They are called last mile vehicles used for mobility between a station and the final destination, for instance. They can also be used at the airports to transport passengers,” he said.

He said that the minibuses could be deployed in some parts of Paris in five years.

The second test to be held in Paris before the end of the year, will see the EZ10 running between two major transport hubs, the Lyon and Austerlitz train stations.

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