Launch of the NIMFEA project in April 2022: a unique pilot project of an autonomous shared shuttle service between Vernon and Giverny (Eure, France)

January 1, 2022

The NIMFEA (Navettes Innovantes Modulaires du Futur Expérimentales et Autonomes = Innovative Modular Experimental and Autonomous Shuttles of the Future) pilot project is a multi-partner operation bringing together public and private players, including Seine Normandy Conurbation, Transdev Autonomous Transport Systems, Transdev Normandy and the NextMove competitiveness cluster. NIMFEA's ambition, as announced today, is to set up a public experimentation of shared autonomous shuttle services between April and October 2002 during the tourist season.

The project will be conducted with three autonomous electric EasyMile Level 4 vehicles, which can welcome on board up to 12 passengers. The route chosen for NIMFEA is a 12km round-trip path, which will provide a regular link between the Vernon-Giverny train station and the Museum of Impressionisms in Giverny, including roundabouts, a secondary road, an urban environment and the Giverny tourist site. This is the longest route on mixed open roads ever tested by this type of autonomous vehicle! A first in Europe!

The technological challenges to be met in the context of this experiment are significant and constitute an essential link for the future deployment of autonomous mobility services: establishing a traffic speed compatible with the use of the road by other road users, crossing complex junctions, and ensuring remote supervision based on the architecture already deployed for the Rouen Normandy Autonomous Lab project, and thanks to the partnership with the Rouen Normandy Metropolis and Transdev Rouen. The project will also focus on measuring the social appropriation of this autonomous transport service.

The objectives of the NIMFEA project are to

  • ensure accessibility to the mobility of the future for all travelers: inhabitants, employees and tourists
  • contribute to the advancement of regulations, deployment principles and the economic model of autonomous mobility services
  • implement a remote supervision system in partnership with the Rouen Normandy Metropolis
  • train and support the emergence of new skills in the mobility ecosystem

Seine Normandy Conurbation (Seine Normandie Agglomération, SNA) wishes, with this project, to continue its commitment to innovative and sustainable mobility. Indeed, since 2017, the elected officials have been interested in experimenting an autonomous electric shuttle. The choice of a link between Vernon and Giverny was easily found. This service serves Claude Monet's house and gardens, as well as the Museum of Impressionisms visited by more than 800,000 visitors per year.

Today more than ever, the revival of the tourist activity must be accompanied. The route is also interesting for several reasons. The three autonomous shuttles will have to deal with three constraints: traffic in a city center, the crossing of several intersections and roundabouts as well as the traffic on a departmental road where they will be able to drive up to 25 km/h, a first in Europe on a route of this length on an open road! The project also aims to measure the social acceptability of this new technology by analyzing the reactions of passengers and motorists and studying how they will appropriate this new mode of transport. In a second phase, the service will be available to a wider public. This new mobility offer aims at answering the mobility needs of the inhabitants, shopkeepers and seasonal workers in Giverny as well as tourists and visitors coming from all around the world and arriving in the area via the Vernon-Giverny train station

« Tomorrow's mobility had to find its place in our young territory with a rural structure, and thus be an actor of this dynamic movement. This has now been achieved with the NIMFEA experiment, which fits in perfectly with our ambition to contribute to economic development and technological innovation along the Seine axis. It is also environmentally- friendly and actively participates in sustainable development in a region that will be using 100% renewable energy by 2040. »Frédéric Duché, President of Seine Normandy Conurbation

« Setting up an experimental, electric and autonomous shuttle to link our city center to the tourist site of Giverny meets our permanent concern to innovate while placing Vernon and SNA ahead of their time. It is also a symbol of the audacity and ingenuity that drives us every day. This experimentation is fully in line with the economic and tourist development of New Normandy. Private partners who share these values are of course invited to join the project by making their contribution in any way they can »François Ouzilleau, Mayor of Vernon, Delegate President of Seine Normandy Conurbation

In this project, Transdev Autonomous Transport Systems - ATS - is the integrator of the autonomous transport system, including the supervision software, the autonomous shuttles and the connected infrastructure. Transdev ATS is involved in all the technical stages of the NIMFEA project and also provides its supervision software. This software has three main functions: fleet management, system monitoring and customer experience.

This supervision software is a necessary tool to operate a mobility service with autonomous vehicles that has the required quality of service and safety level. For this project, and for the first time, supervision will be possible by a supervision operator located at 70km from the operating site. This will be located in Rouen within the Operational Control Center (OCC) of the Rouen Normandy Metropolis, thanks to the implementation of remote supervision. Supervision operators, trained beforehand, will be able to monitor the service in real time and access all the information relating to the service.

Pour Transdev Normandie et Transdev STA, ce projet s’inscrit en complémentarité avec les autres projets réalisés ou prévus sur l’Axe Seine, dont le Rouen Normandy Autonomous Lab[1] et NAVETTY[2]aux Mureaux sur le site d’ArianeGroupFor Transdev Normandy and Transdev ATS, this project is complementary to other projects carried out or planned on the Seine axis, including the Rouen Normandy Autonomous Lab and NAVETTY at Les Mureaux on the ArianeGroup site.

For NextMove, the Automotive and Mobility competitiveness cluster, NIMFEA is perfectly in line with its ambition: to embody, animate and promote the Mobility Valley, an area of European excellence where solutions are being invented, developed, tested and industrialized to meet the challenges of future mobility.  As a founding partner, NextMove is responsible for the operational coordination of this ambitious project.

Around Seine Normandy Conurbation (SNA), the Transdev Group, and NextMove, the ecosystem of new mobilities is mobilized, placing SNA among the pioneers of autonomous public transport experimentation in France.

The NIMFEA project is the winner of the 5th edition of the French Mobilities – Territories of sustainable mobilities "Tenmod" call for expressions of interest, sponsored by the French ADEME agency. This is an additional recognition in line with the objectives of this call for expressions of interest: how to adapt to meet the mobility needs of citizens, what solutions in suburban and rural areas?

The NIMFEA project is also supported by a second scheme to which Seine Normandy Conurbation had responded in 2018: City center (2018: Cœur de Ville) via the Bank of Territories (Banque des Territoires, Caisse des Dépôts Group), a program dedicated to the revitalization of the city centers of medium-sized towns.

Founding partners of the project: Seine Normandy Conurbation, Transdev Autonomous Transport Systems, Transdev Normandy and NextMoveInstitutional and/or funding partners: the French State, ADEME and the Ministry of Ecological Transition, the Eure Department, the Bank of Territories (Banque des Territoires) of the Caisse des Dépôts Group, the City of Vernon, the City of Giverny, the Rouen Normandy Metropolis. Private partners: Crédit Agricole Normandie Seine, NGE, CITEOS, SEPUR, McArthurGlen, L'aura des villes, Enedis, Effia, SNCF.

Players who would like to take part in the project, both financially and technically, can contact Seine Normandy Conurbation (SNA), Transdev Normandy, Transdev ATS and NextMove.

[1] The Rouen Normandy Autonomous Lab is a precursor project for a shared autonomous mobility service, integrated into the public transport network, initiated in 2017. RNAL's partners are: Caisse des Dépôts Group, Metropole Rouen, the Normandy Region, Transdev Group, Renault Group, Matmut Group and Europe/ERDF.

[2] The NAVETTY R&D project is being carried out by VEDECOM, R&D institute for energy transition in mobility, ArianeGroup, Transdev Autonomous Transport Systems, EasyMile and the Yvelines County Council (CD78). The aim is to deploy a fully autonomous mobility service  with no on-board operators on a site representative of an urban area.

Source : Transdev Press Release