Torc Robotics and Transdev are launching autonomous shuttles to deliver people to public transit

Self-driving technology company Torc Robotics is partnering with Transdev, the public transportation giant, to deploy fully autonomous electric shuttles designed to provide free connections to existing transit like trains and buses.

The companies, which made the announcement Monday at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, are integrating Torc’s self-driving software stack and sensor suite into an autonomous shuttle known as i-Cristal that was unveiled earlier this year by Transdev and French manufacturer Lohr. Torc is licensing its Asimov self-driving software and sensor suite to Transdev.

The shuttles, which can seat up to 16 passengers, will operate in a dedicated lane offering a shared-ride mobility service at night and off-peak hours between the Massy transit station and the Paris-Saclay campus. Another autonomous shuttle service will operate on public roads offering a shared-ride mobility service throughout the business park and connecting to the tramway station in Rouen.

The partners are testing on closed courses and public roads before launching the public service trials in Paris-Saclay and Rouen.

The aim is integrate autonomous shuttles into Transdev’s public transportation networks, which are considerable. The public transportation company operates in 20 countries and its transit services provide 11 million passenger trips per day.

“At Transdev, we believe the future of mobility is increasingly P.A.C.E.: Personalized, Autonomous, Connected and Eco-Friendly,” Yann Leriche, Transdev’s North America CEO and head of autonomous transportation systems said in a statement. “We believe that public transport will lead and be the first place real autonomous services will be developed.”

The electric i-Cristal shuttles have Level 4 autonomous capabilities, a designation by the SAE that means these vehicles are able to operate fully autonomously in certain conditions or geographic areas. The shuttles, which operate without a steering wheel or pedals, can travel up to 19 miles per hour.

Torc Robotics’ specialty has been in automated heavy machinery and commercial equipment. But the company shifted its attention to consumer products in recent years. The company has integrated its Asimov self-driving car technology into Lexus RX and Chrysler Pacifica vehicles. Torc says it has tested these vehicles in more than 20 U.S. states while operating on both public roads and closed courses. 

Last year, at CES 2018, Torc announced a partnership with AAA to work on a set of safety criteria for using self-driving cars.