The first self-driving bus, produced by the French autonomous leader EasyMile, will soon be released in California’s public roads, after receiving necessary permissions. The Contra Costa County Transportation Authority (CCTA) already obtained permissions from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in October 2017 and from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in January 2018.
California’s DMV new regulations for autonomous driving particularly influenced the commencement of the project. The DMV’s latest update was released earlier on March 2, with a public comment period expected to last for additional 30 days.
While the previous rules allowed manufacturers to test their autonomous vehicles with a human as a backup driver since 2014, the new rules will allow companies to apply for test permits remotely, effective April 2. In addition, each permit will have different requirements.
On March 6, in collaboration with the research facility Gomentum, CCTA tested the third phase of the pilot program, in a short trip. The successful venture in California’s public roads, represented a special milestone for the CCTA, Bishop Ranch and the DMV, according to director Jean Shiomoto.
“We are excited to celebrate this milestone with CCTA and Bishop Ranch. The California DMV has been working for years to bring this groundbreaking technology to California’s roadways while ensuring safety of the motoring public.”
When eventually deployed, the electric bus will transport passengers starting from the 585-square-acre office park in Bishop Ranch, California, where the bus has been previously tested.
EasyMile’s EZ10 driverless shuttle is a 100% electric vehicle, that can travel up to 45 km/h, carrying a maximum of 15 passengers. The bus is a 12-seat vehicle, without a steering wheel, brakes or accelerator, with an in-built access ramp for mobility-challenged passengers. It can operate on fixed and on-demand routes, while supervised by EasyMile’s fleet management software. The shuttle is suitable for existing roads, without additional infrastructure.
In addition to California, the EZ10 shuttle has already been deployed in 20 other countries across Asia-Paciﬁc, Middle-East, North America and Europe.
The founding company is one of Europe’s leading autonomous vehicle technology developers, supplying smart mobility solutions for diverse passenger and logistics requirements and environments, autonomous software for various transportation platforms and an in-house fleet. With a global reach, starting from its headquarters in Toulouse, EasyMile extends to regional offices in Denver, Berlin, Melbourne and Singapore.