Self-driving sports utility vehicles from Peugeot may soon hit the roads as part of a project to test fully autonomous vehicles. The French carmaker has entered into a strategic partnership with nuTonomy – a self-driving car startup that had been formed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2013 – to have the Cambridge-based company install and implement its self-driving technology into Peugeot’s 3008 SUV.
Once nuTonomy’s software system has been fully installed into the Peugeot 3008 SUV, the partners will commence on-road testing of the self-driving vehicle in Singapore. The partnership is eyeing – ultimately -- to deploy thousands of fully autonomous cars in cities around the world.
As agreed, the initial phase of the partnership will entail nuTonomy having to seamlessly integrate its autonomous vehicle (AV) system – including its software, specialized sensors and computing platforms -- into the Peugeot 3008 SUVs. The partners consider the seamless integration of the AV system with vehicle hardware as a critical step toward deploying self-driving vehicle in large numbers and over extended life cycles.
These Peugeot 3008 units have received hardware customizations by PSA’s innovation teams, in order for them to seamlessly accommodate nuTonomy’s AV system. nuTonomy is expecting to complete the integration of the AV system this summer. The partners plan to commence on-road testing of the autonomous 3008s in September in Singapore, where nuTonomy has been conducting public trials of an on-demand AV mobility service since August 2016.
PSA sees the project as vital to realizing its ambition of becoming the preferred mobility provider for customers around the word -- as laid out in its “Push to Pass” strategic plan unveiled in April 2016. The partnership -- implemented under the group’s “Autonomous Vehicle for All” (AVA) program – should help bring fully autonomous mobility solutions into the market, as highlighted by Anne Laliron, Head of the Business Lab and Innovation Division at Groupe PSA. This division was responsible for launching the partnership, which was intended to identify and assess new business opportunities, especially in the Mobility and Digital fields.
After completing the tests in Singapore, the partners may expand trials – subject to evaluation -- of the self-driving Peugeot 3008 SUVs to other big cities around the world. Karl Iagnemma, chief executive and co-founder of nuTonomy, remarked that the collaboration should help the IT company get closer to its goal of deploying a fully autonomous mobility-on-demand transportation service in urban settings.
Prior to the agreement with Peugeot, nuTonomy’s test fleet in Singapore includes specially configured Renault Zoe or Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicles. While these test vehicles are fully autonomous, an engineer from nuTonomy rides along both to monitor their performance and take over control for safety reasons. The partnership should add Peugeot 3008 into nuTonomy’s test fleet, and these SUVs are expected to be operated in a similar manner.