Navya SAS today announced that it and partner BlueBus have finalized the robotization and automation of two Bluebus Autonom shuttles and have successfully completed all commissioning tests. The autonomous vehicles will now begin drives on a test track.
The companies said this milestone demonstrated their ability to collaborate to automate an existing vehicle in a short time. After only one month, the BlueBus and Navya teams were able to assemble and integrate all of Navya's technologies into the Bluebus platform for series production.
“The assembly of these two vehicles on the production line is the concrete expression of the work we have undertaken on the industrialization of our solutions,” stated Olivier Le Cornec, director of research and development and technologies at Navya. “Our first test drives on the Quimper [France] site allow us to be confident that we will quickly reach our objectives of driving on a test track.”
Founded in 2014, Navya supplies autonomous mobility systems and related services. The company has a total of 280 employees in France, the U.S., and Singapore. Its shareholders include Valeo and Keolis, and it announced a capital reduction in December.
Navya launched its Autonom Shuttle for passengers in 2015 and sold more than 200 vehicles in 25 countries through 2021. In 2021, the company introduced Autonom Tract, a tractor for the transportation of goods. Last year, it demonstrated Autonom shuttle platoons at New York's JFK Airport.
Navya integrates autonomy into existing vehicles
The partners integrated the Navya Pack sensors and Navya Drive and Navya Operate software modules into two BlueBus Autonom shuttles. BlueBus developed the braking, acceleration, and steering controls.
Bluebus Autonom is the first vehicle to reach SAE Level 4 of autonomous mobility without an operator on board, claimed the companies. Adapting the platform to make it usable in both manual and autonomous modes was easy, said Navya and BlueBus.
“The prototypes we have developed will also make it possible to build buses that can be retrofitted with autonomous mobility technologies,” said Navya.
Navya and BlueBus worked with Keolis and Plastic Omnium as part of the EFIBA (Emergence Filière Industrielle Bus Autonome) project supported by the France Relance program.
Tests validate electric, autonomous shuttles
Founded in 2007, BlueBus manufactures 100% electric buses in 6-m (19.6 ft.) and 12-m (39.3 ft.) sizes. The zero-emission, silent vehicles meet the demands of local authorites and transport operators for clean and sustainable mobility, said the Bolloré Group unit.
“The Bluebus [shuttles] are also equipped with Blue Solutions' all-solid batteries, with a total on-board energy of 126 kWh,” explained Richard Bouveret, CEO of BlueBus. “This is the only all-solid technology in industrial use in the world.”
In addition, the latest range tests on the 6-m Bluebus conducted by UTAC, a market leader in vehicle testing and certification, validated a record range of 280 km (173.9 mi.). The Standardized On-Road Test, or e-SORT, cycle, validated the autonomy.
The tests demonstrated “the capacity and reliability of our new bus to meet current and future urban transport needs,” said the companies.
BlueBus to begin mass production
BlueBus plans to mass-produce Bluebus Autonom, driven by the Navya autonomous system, on a production line dedicated to autonomous vehicles.
“The completion of these two fully automated industrial prototypes is a great success for Bluebus and Navya, and I would like to thank all our teams involved in this forward-looking project,” said Bouveret. “We look forward to mass-producing the Bluebus Autonom in our Quimper plant to diversify our product portfolio and contribute to innovative mobility adapted to the needs of cities and users.”
The BlueBus and Blue Solutions production sites are ISO 9001 and ISO 14001-certified for quality and have the Origine France Garantie label. More than 450 BlueBus electric buses are already in operation worldwide.
The companies said the successful project confirms Navya's ability to add its autonomous mobility technology to any existing mass-produced platform with partners familiar with automotive industry requirements.