Autonomous mobility is not an issue reserved for large metropolitan cities.
Experiments with autonomous vehicles must indeed take into account the specificities of sparsely populated environments where transport solutions are often rarer, and the specific challenges of rural areas are numerous.
The TORNADO research project, which is coming to an end today, thus aimed to identify the communication technologies and infrastructures necessary for the deployment of autonomous mobility services in rural and peri-urban areas, through two use cases and through collaboration between industrial and academic partners, a territory and local populations.
In this framework, two electric and autonomous mobility services have been tested, with validation periods in the field at real scale and environment:
A service in a shared vehicle (Renault ZOE) on demand, with a direct connection between the rural station of Gazeran and the Bel Air – La Forêt business park in Rambouillet.
The other, by shuttle bus, with a logic of service to stop points within the Bel Air Activity Zone.
Define the technologies required for the deployment of autonomous transport solutions in peri-urban and rural areas.
The technical part of the TORNADO project consisted in defining and developing autonomous driving solutions as well as communication technologies and infrastructures:
- Ensuring a maximum level of security: hardware, software, on-board and remote solutions, vehicle-infrastructure communication…
- Adapted to the specificities of peri-urban and rural areas: narrow roads, roundabouts, obstacles masking visibility, lack of road markings or landmarks, heterogeneity of roadsides, narrow tunnels with only one traffic lane.
For the Renault Group, it was a question of running an electric vehicle in a totally autonomous way over a 13 km route illustrating a scenario of direct connection between the Gazeran station and the Bel Air business park in Rambouillet, representative of these specificities. The complexity and diversity of traffic scenarios in rural and peri-urban environments required, among other things :
- To increase the perception capabilities of autonomous vehicles with 360-degree, real-time detection of the environment (type of objects, size, distance from the vehicle).
- To be able to locate and control the autonomous vehicle to within 20 centimetres to ensure that it stays in its lane, on roads that can be very narrow and on all shoulders.
- Compensate for temporary loss of GPS signal or total lack of visibility, for example when passing through a single-lane tunnel.
- Achieve, in autonomous mode, “acceptable” speed levels as close as possible to reality for passengers and other road users, i.e. up to 70 km/hr.
On this route, the project partners were able to experiment with the role of connected infrastructure elements (connected lights and fixed cameras allowing vehicles to take objects into account beyond their own perception).
To complete the use case inside the Bel Air ZA and to define a “door-to-door” service, an electric and autonomous shuttle that can accommodate 10 people was also experimented with a logic of serving stopping points in the zone.
To enable people to move from one end of a commercial zone to the other in complete safety, the shuttle integrated new systems provided by the partners: advanced perception, perception linked to the infrastructure and automated security perimeter.
Controlled by the same mobile application, the Renault ZOE and the shuttle were coordinated to ensure the continuity and fluidity of the experienced service.
To be as close as possible to the inhabitants.
The second part of the TORNADO project was to understand the mobility practices of the inhabitants of the experimentation area, to apprehend their perception of autonomous vehicles and to measure their adherence (expectations and obstacles) to potential future autonomous transport services as a relevant, safe, shared and environmentally friendly complement to mobility.
Around a hundred people from the user community of the Rambouillet Territoires MobiLab were involved in the various stages of the project.
These test sessions of the autonomous Renault ZOE, supplemented by co-creation workshops, made it possible to study the appropriation of the autonomous vehicle, to follow the evolution of the feeling in relation to these new technologies and to make the project evolve by making improvements and/or technical adaptations in order to be as close as possible to the expectations of the community of users, which has been very active throughout the project.
As an example, Renault ZOE vehicles are now driving in autonomous mode at 70 km/h (compared with 50 km/h in 2019). This performance meets the demand from users who wanted the autonomous vehicle to reach the maximum authorised speed on the route in order to have a perception of the service provided that is as realistic as possible.
Meeting the needs of the territories.
Electric, autonomous and shared mobility represents an opportunity for territories that wish to encourage mobility for the greatest number of people, particularly in sparsely populated areas.
It provides a response to public transport needs with safe and environmentally friendly vehicles.
Rambouillet Territoires, for whom mobility issues are not only an expectation of its inhabitants but also a challenge for the attractiveness of the territory, has been actively involved in the project with the support of other local authorities in the conurbation and the department.
In addition to dealing with regulatory issues, the development of the road network concerned and the material implementation of the TORNADO project experiments, it was also important for the territory to involve users in the reflections on the definition of this service of the future.
A public-private cooperative project
The TORNADO project is a FUI-Regions project funded by Bpifrance and the regions of Île-de-France, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Occitanie. Multi-partner, it brings together complementary players who have pooled their know-how, skills and innovation capacities to serve a territory.
TORNADO project partners
- Project initiator : Groupe Renault
- Co-pilot : Rambouillet Territoires
- Indsutrial Partners: LACROIX City, AVAIRX, Exoskills, 4D-Virtualiz et EasyMile
- Academic Partners: Université Gustave Eiffel, UT de Compiègne
- Laboratoire Heudiasyc, Institut Pascal, INRIA et l’Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour (UPPA)
- Accreditation clusters: Mov’eo, ViaMéca et Aerospace Valley
Source : motorsactu.com