[InOut] Driverless cars: Utopia or reality?

A fabulous way of getting from A to B, driverless cars are a central focus for mobility players. Although public and private operators are currently testing them all around the world, many questions come to mind: who are the players in this ecosystem?  What legal framework should be put in place? When will these new vehicles hit our roads?

To talk about these themes, we’ve invited Arnaud Julien (Keolis), Renaud Heller (Ecosys) and Raphaël Morel (Uber).

A much vaster ecosystem than you might imagine.

Renaud Heller is Project Director at Ecosys, a company that works on ecosystem modelling data. For the past four years he is the head of support for the Ministry of Industry’s “New Industrial France  — Autonomous vehicles” initiative. His work on modelling France’s driverless car ecosystem gives him an excellent basis to shed light on the problems and choke points involved in rolling out driverless vehicles. One of these hurdles is the underlying business infrastructure that will have to develop to allow fully autonomous vehicles to be let loose on our roads. “At this stage, we realize it’s hard to anticipate the various business opportunities connected with the driverless car ecosystem. We’re in the process of defining what will be possible for private transport, public transport, and urban logistics overall. The various players involved are wondering how they will be able to derive value from these new practices.”

And contrary to what you may think, the driverless ecosystem is not just cars. Among the players keenly interested in this option, as Heller points out, are France’s postal service La Poste Group, Paris public transport operator RATP, and even companies in the naval and aeronautics sectors.

The crucial issue is legislation

The legal framework remains one of the key issues when considering how driverless transport can work. “Focused discussions are currently underway between manufacturers and the State to establish a legal framework,” says Renaud Heller. “In France, all companies and startups that have applied for authorisation to trial driverless vehicles have been able to do so.” Essential collaboration to move things forward as constructively as possible!

Raphaël Morel too, Development Director for Uber in France, emphasises the importance of regulation: We all need to work together as much as possible to ensure that the various technological innovations converge on a unanimous model, with regulations that are consistent all over the world, to end up with a system that works everywhere on the planet.”

Gradual introduction of driverless vehicles!

So when are driverless cars going to be here? The question is on everyone’s lips, but unfortunately we can’t provide an exact date. For Arnaud Julien, Innovation & Digital Director at Keolis Group, there will be no “grand reveal”. Driverless cars will appear on our roads gradually. “The real question,” he says, is: “Should we make a massive switch to driverless cars?” Although driverless cars are here now, we’re still experimenting on services that are still limited. The advent of this new type of travel will also depend on the effort expended by the various players in the sector.

In general, the professionals at the InOut Show too don’t believe that these new vehicles will be rolled out overnight. The ecosystem will continue to develop, trials will continue, and, little by little, driverless vehicles will be rolled out on our roads and in our cities.


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