Sion, CH is piloting AVs
In the shadow of the Matterhorn, the French-speaking Swiss town of Sion boasts one of the world’s longest-running AV pilots, dubbed SmartShuttle. Employing a pair of Navya Arma driverless shuttles, the two-year pilot links major downtown plazas and two historic sites, Valère and Tourbillon castles, via scheduled fare-free service.
The pilot is a collaboration between the city government, PostBus Switzerland (the nation’s leading bus transit operator), and startup BestMile, a spinoff founded in 2014 by graduates from Lausanne’s Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL). For PostBus, the pilot is specifically designed to supplement existing transit services, rather than replace or compete with them. As BestMile co-founder Raphaël Gindrat told news site Swissinfo.ch, “We are proposing to go where it’s complicated, where the roads are too narrow or where financially it is too expensive for the state.”
With an initial two-year pilot phase drawing to close in mid-2018, Swiss Post (PostBus’s parent company) has indicated it plans to continue service following a survey about the attitude of the public towards the use of AVs for public transportation.