Head to the Marly Innovation Center with the automated shuttle

The very first automated public passenger transportation service

Transports publics fribourgeois (TPF) in collaboration with the Marly Innovation Center (MIC), the Municipality of Marly, the Agglomeration of Fribourg and the State of Fribourg have unveiled their first automated shuttle. The shuttle, which connects the Marly Innovation Center area to the Fribourg public transport network, was developed and built by Navya, the French specialist in smart mobility and enables short-term testing of service in the final kilometre. There are four stops on the shuttle route between the "Marly, Cité" stop on line 1 and the MIC. Official commissioning is scheduled for Friday, August 18, 2017.

The primary objective of this pilot project is to transport commuters to their place of employment. Connecting residents in the area to the urban public transport network is another objective. Providing service in the final kilometre responds to these challenges. The automated shuttle ensures network access for remote areas when conventional variants are too expensive for the resources available. By providing a connection to the MIC, the automated shuttle helps develop and attract new businesses to this Innovation District, which already counts more than 100 start-ups. In the medium term, the district will have over a thousand residences. The TPF is the first in Switzerland to include a regularly scheduled automated shuttle.

A shuttle every 7 minutes

From Monday to Friday, the TPF plans on having two operating phases for the automated line. During peak hours (6:30 am - 9:00 am, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm), the shuttle will run at the same intervals as line 1, i.e. every 7 minutes. In non-peak hours, the vehicle will operate on demand. The shuttle will also operate by special request on weekends. In this way, it can adapt to the prevailing demand and guarantee autonomy for close to 8 hours. The shuttle's cruising speed is limited to 25 km/h and can complete the 1.3-kilometre journey in 7 minutes. It can carry 11 passengers. An operator is present on every trip to ensure passenger safety and accessibility for those with reduced mobility. 

The challenge is to have the automated shuttle function on a reduced-speed road with road traffic. Measures have been taken to guarantee its operation in such conditions. These include special arrangements that were agreed on between the Résidence des Epinettes, the chemin des Epinettes, the route de l'Ancienne Papeterie, and the Marly Innovation Center and were facilitated by the Municipality of Marly. They guarantee the coexistence of the shuttle with residents and the population. 

At the cutting edge of technology

The TPF has associated itself with the most advanced specialist firms in the field of automated shuttles as part of its search for innovative solutions for its customers. Navya is a leader and specialist in the development of intelligent and autonomous mobility solutions and is based in Lyon and Paris. It has already deployed more than 35 vehicles throughout the world and will soon pass the milestone of 130,000 passengers transported. The company developed both the vehicle intelligence as well as the shuttle design.

Bestmile, a start-up based at the Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPF Lausanne), developed the platform necessary for operating the shuttle. Moreover, work on monitoring reports is currently being undertaken in close cooperation with the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg. The TPF's single operational centre is responsible for the control of the shuttle and its integration into the network. The aim is to harmonise the operation of an automated vehicle with a vehicle circulation system with drivers.

Inventing the transportation of the future

This innovative project will help determine whether the automated vehicle system can be exported elsewhere in the canton of Fribourg and be used in other appropriate sectors. The various Federal offices are also highly interested in it because it creates synergy between existing public transport network and isolated areas. The shuttle encourages the use of public transport instead of private vehicles, thereby improving the modal shift. Customer experiences will also be tested and studied. 

The project costs over CHF 700,000. The State of Fribourg is financing the first shuttle, while the second was ordered by the Marly Innovation Center. The operating costs of the first shuttle are covered by the agglomeration of Freiburg, and TPF will take over those of the second as well as the balance of investment costs. The Municipality of Marly is providing human resources and taking over the costs of the facilities to be created. The competent agencies are expected to grant the necessary permits once the test phase, scheduled for 4 months, is completed. Official commissioning is scheduled for Friday, August 18, 2017. However, integration of zone 10 Frimobil into the TPF network and the schedule will be implemented during the 2018 schedule change, which takes place on Sunday, December 10, 2017.

Fribourg, March 21, 2017.