Residents and visitors can now get around Sion, the largest city in the Canton of Valais, with self-driving shuttles. The fully electric vehicles, which were presented to the public last December and have so far been tested on private land, will be tested on public roads from June 2016 to October 2017. This pilot project is supported by the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) and is part of Mobility Lab Sion-Valais, a joint initiative of Swiss Post, EPFL, the HES-SO Valais Wallis, the Canton of Valais and the City of Sion.
As academic partners, EPFL and HES-SO Valais Wallis are using the project for their research purposes. Researchers from the Urban Transport Systems Laboratory (LUTS) will be working on developing a fleet-management system able to handle the many situations that autonomous vehicles could encounter. During the project, the HES-SO Valais-Wallis will also be examining the acceptance of this new technology among the population.
According to a press release, the smart shuttles will carry up to 11 passengers at a time, at a maximum speed of 20 kilometers per hour. They are equipped with air conditioning, a second battery, an access ramp for people with reduced mobility and a windshield wiper for the front window.