VIDEO. This Citroën AMI serves as a guinea pig for a key technology for the Teors in Rouen

Esigelec’s robotic Citroën Ami during the UTAC CERAM national challenge organized at the Linas-Montlhéry autodrome (Essonne), on May 12, 2022. (©Esigelec)

Its old-fashioned little name contrasts with the modernity of its on-board equipment. This afternoon of Monday, May 16, 2022, Jacqueline the Friend goes around the parking lot of theEsigelec like a grown up. Steering wheel rotation, acceleration, braking, obstacle avoidance… This brand electric cart Citroën does without a driver thanks to the technologies implemented by students and a team of technicians and engineers from this school located in the campus of madrilet, to Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray (Seine-Maritime). Technologies that could be found, in the years to come, on the Teor buses of the Metropolis of Rouen.

Partnership with Transdev

For several years, Esigelec has forged various partnerships with Transdev, main operator of the Tip network, in particular around the autonomous vehicle. Baptized RAGI (for Recharge Autonome Intelligent Guiding), this project financed by the Normandy Region and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) aims in particular to outline the next guidance system allowing the Teor to dock in station.

These vehicles are already equipped with a camera which reads the white dotted strips on the roadway showing the trajectory imposed when approaching bus stops. “A computer analyzes the position of the vehicle in relation to the track and transmits the necessary corrections to the steering column, explains the Métropole Rouen Normandie on its site. It allows docking close to the platform in the station in complete safety with level access for travellers, in particular people with reduced mobility.

Modernize the docking system

However, this optical guidance technology is beginning to age. “It was developed in the 1990s, recalls Vincent Vauchey, engineer in charge of the innovation research and development department (SIRD) at Irseem, an Esigelec research laboratory specializing in on-board electronic systems. The cameras used are sensitive to the phenomena of reflections and glare. Tree leaves that have fallen to the ground can also interfere with the reading of the marking. »

Esigelec is supported in this project by many partners.
Esigelec is supported in this project by many partners. (©VL/76news)

With his colleagues and students, the engineer intends to propose “a technological update” of this docking system, based on new sensors installed on a Citroën Ami. A model chosen because “it makes it easy to board a passenger while working at low levels of electrical voltage”. Admittedly, its dimensions have nothing to do with that of a Teor but “scaling up is not a problem”, assures Vincent Vauchey.

The prototype thus has a GPS and an inertial unit to control its location almost to the nearest centimeter. Added to this is a dual optical camera providing three-dimensional vision and a lidar (same function as a radar but using a laser and no radio waves) for identifying docks or any obstacles in relation to the position of the car.

On its roof rails, the Ami carries lidar, a dual-optical camera and inertial sensors.
On its roof rails, the Ami carries lidar, a dual-optical camera and inertial sensors. (©VL/76news)

In the cramped cabin lined with cables and electronic equipment (power supply, PC, positioning and communication systems, etc.), the various actuators (steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedals, indicators) are all robotized. Thus, the Ami can automatically follow courses previously carried out in manual mode to save the parameters of trajectory, speed, braking, etc. Video demonstration:

Videos: currently on Actu

“Technological bricks”

At the end of this test, it appears that the braking prior to the evasive maneuver lacks a bit of bite. Do not panic: thanks to a video game controller, the passenger can deactivate autonomous mode at any time and return to manual mode.

The braking power can be readjusted by the students who, year after year, take turns to enrich the functions of the prototype. “It took a year for theory and coding. The first automation tests were carried out in December 2021. This year, we are working on the detection of traffic signs and red lights”, recalls Vincent Vauchey.

Esigelec triple rewarded in a national challenge

Proof of the know-how of Esigelec students and their supervisors in automated and connected driving, the school was triple rewarded during the final of the UTAC CERAM challenge, organized at the Linas autodrome. -Montlhery (Essonne).
Opposed to ten other teams from engineering schools and universities, the Seinomarins (part of whose equipment was financed by the Normandy Region) won the following prizes with their robotic Citroën Ami:
– first place in the urban course where it was a question of presenting the capacities of their vehicle to move in automated driving in a city environment;
– D-Space prize for “the good development logic implemented on the project”;
– prize for the best school for having been able to integrate this challenge into the education of fourth and fifth year students.
A student at Esigelec, Victor expresses his “pride” to see “all our work rewarded. We come from different countries (France, China, Benin), with different methods but we have been able to work as a team effectively.”
“This kind of challenge offers a more practical vision, makes it possible to mobilize all the knowledge acquired, underlines for his part Vincent Vauchey. It is also a guarantee of the school’s visibility with industrialists.”

“We are showing what we can do but we have no vocation to carry out industrialization, tempers the engineer. We are developing technological building blocks that can be reused by Transdev or one of its subsidiaries. »

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