Self-Driving Company Launches at French Open

WeRide, Renault Group team provide self-driving bus service for fans at the event

Graham Hope

June 7, 2024

3 Min Read
WeRide and Renault Group's self-driving shuttle at the French Open.

Tennis fans at this year’s French Open have enjoyed an early taste of an autonomous bus service that could be rolled out across Europe.

Chinese company WeRide and French automaker the Renault Group paired up to provide a Level 4 shuttle that gave fans a taste of the benefits of self-driving transport.

And it’s hoped that the pilot, which marked the Guangzhou company’s entry into the European market, will act as a launch pad for its expansion across the continent.

On a daily basis throughout the tournament, the WeRide Robobus has ferried fans in Paris from a parking lot in the vicinity of Roland-Garros to the stadium itself, and then back again at the end of play. 

The entire shuttle route is approximately three miles long and takes about 12 minutes, and the shuttle has been operating in daylight hours, between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

WeRide describes the vehicle as the world’s first pre-designed autonomous driving robobus that is commercially deployed on a large scale, and it has already seen service in 30 cities across seven countries, including in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, plus Singapore.

The bus is fitted with WeRide’s full-stack, self-developed autonomous driving software and hardware system and is considered the company’s flagship product as it targets further expansion.

Related:WeRide Gets National Self-Driving License From UAE

Founder and CEO Tony Han explained: “We are very grateful for the strong support from our strategic investor, Renault Group. Launching the Robobus shuttle service at Roland-Garros marks the first step in our joint effort with Renault Group to promote low-carbon public transportation with autonomous driving. 

“This is also another significant milestone in WeRide’s international strategy, [and] we will work together with Renault to bring safe, comfortable, and green autonomous public transportation services to users in Europe.”

In the long term, WeRide’s aim – in tandem with the Renault Group – is to develop a localized version of a Level 4 driverless minibus specifically for the European market.

The Renault Group previously indicated this will be based on an electrified platform shared with its new Master van. The companies believe the potential commercial demand for a driverless minibus across Europe’s public transit sector could stretch to several thousand units per year.

The development of the bus is a cornerstone of the Renault Group’s new autonomous strategy, having shelved plans to develop self-driving cars and instead focus on public transport solutions. Among other key partners it is working with are EasyMile and Milla.

Related:Driverless Robobus Test Launches in Saudi Arabia

WeRide has emerged as one of China’s foremost autonomous driving companies and has amassed a growing portfolio of vehicles, including a Robosweeper and Robovan, alongside the Robobus.

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About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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