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France Gives Green Light for Autonomous Car Experiments

The autonomous, electric and driverless Renault EZ-GO
The autonomous, electric and driverless Renault EZ-GO

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France Gives Green Light for Autonomous Car Experiments

Autonomous cars will arrive on the roads in the early 2020s, and the French government is preparing for the driverless revolution by unveiling a strategy to help the national car industry. To this end, the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, has confirmed the authorization of driverless car tests on open roads from 2019, ensuring that France will establish itself as an early adopter in the fledgling autonomous transport.

“Experiments on open roads will be possible throughout France up to level 5 autonomy, ie in the absence of any driver,” said the minister, presenting the government’s strategy on autonomous vehicles. “There is a global race on the number of kilometers traveled by autonomous vehicles, France and its industrial players must not be left behind.It is necessary to open all the regulatory possibilities to the industrialists who wish it to make the necessary experiments”, he said, while China and the United States lead the race in this area.

President Emmanuel Macron announced in March a legislative framework for 2019 to facilitate these tests and put the country at the forefront of experimentation and industrialization of autonomous vehicles. Next Monday senior official for the national strategy of the development of the autonomous vehicles, Anne-Marie Idrac, will present strategies for public action, along with the Le Maire and other officials, it was reported on French website Le Point.

While registered, fully operative autonomous cars that can safely drive in all conditions are still a while off, recent technological advances mean that advanced semi-autonomous systems will likely be available within the next two to three years, allowing the driver to stop looking at the road in certain well-defined situations.

Renault is already preparing for the private and commercial autonomous car market, planning to launch 15 semi-autonomous cars by 2022. They recently presented at the Geneva Motor Show an autonomous electric shuttle concept EZ-GO, which promises to be a commercial shared transport vehicle.

Leading French car manufacturer PSA Group are also keen to get in on the autonomous market action. “This is very good news that the government is actively participating in developing these solutions,” said a spokesperson for the group. As the second largest European manufacturer (Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel and Vauxhall brands), PSA began testing in July 2015 and already has some twenty demonstration autonomous vehicles. After more than 150,000km traveled on European roads, the auto maker plans to market its first models by 2021-2023.

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