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PSA completes landmark autonomous drive

Uncorked: Peugeot Citroen has joined the autonomous race with a people-mover that drove itself from Paris to the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in Bordeaux.

Driverless Citroen covers 580km in France's first self-driving demonstration


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5 Oct 2015

PSA Peugeot Citroen has made French automotive history by becoming the first manufacturer to successfully complete a road trip between Paris and Bordeaux without any human intervention.

The milestone journey coincides with the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) World Congress, which is being hosted in Bordeaux this year, running from October 5 to 9.

A specially prepared Citroen C4 Picasso was commandeered for the demonstration and negotiated the extended stretch of freeway without any instructions from its occupants.

Over the course of 580km, the prototype vehicle executed overtaking manoeuvres and lane changes and was able to monitor other vehicles, speed limits and infrastructure.

PSA was the first car-maker to request permission from French authorities to conduct driverless technology testing, acquiring authorisation in July this year, and it will have a fleet of up to 15 operational prototypes by 2016.

The modified people-mover uses a series of retrofitted sensors as well as some standard technology to constantly monitor the vehicle's position and surroundings, and it can respond to its changing environment.

A forward-facing camera and multiple radars senses objects near the car, GPS is used to monitor the vehicle's position and the gathered information is fed to steering, brake and accelerator actuators after processing.

The French manufacturer says that autonomous technology is not just for convenience and has the potential to dramatically cut vehicle collisions resulting from driver error, fatigue and distraction.

While the systems are confined to evaluation prototypes at this stage, Peugeot and Citroen predict the results of ongoing development will soon feature in production vehicles.

PSA Peugeot Citroen chairman Carlos Tavares said the achievement takes the company into a new chapter and added that self-driving vehicles were just around the corner.

“The journey made by our prototype today proves that autonomous vehicles are no longer of matter of science fiction,” he said. “This ushers in a new era for mobility, which I find truly exciting.”

The ITS is an annual conference which aims to road map the emerging transport technology, systems and their associated legislation, with this year's event focusing on “intelligent mobility and better use of space”.

Next year's ITS World Congress will be hosted in Melbourne.

Peugeot and Citroen join a growing list of brands to go public with their autonomous driving activities, with Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Google, BMW, Tesla, Volvo, Freightliner and Nissan all already on their own self-driven journeys.

In Australia, the pursuit of autonomous car tech has been slower, but the South Australian government recently gave the cause a significant boost when it teamed up with Volvo and the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB Group) to pioneer the country's first trials.

Kicking off from November this year, the Swedish car-maker will provide a specially prepared XC90 large SUV for a series of controlled tests to asses the viability of self-driving vehicle technology on local roads.

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