On 12 April 2016, two Citroën C4 Picasso cars drove more than 300 kilometres, 200 miles, in autonomous mode to attend a major European event in Amsterdam that brought together about a dozen car manufacturers as well as transport ministers from the European Union, of which the Netherlands currently holds the Council presidency.
The two PSA Group cars left Vélizy, France in "eyes off" mode, i.e., without driver supervision, and covered several hundred kilometres between Paris and Amsterdam on authorised stretches of road. "Eyes off" mode corresponds to the third level of autonomous driving*, which means the driver need not take any action aside from simply verifying that systems are functioning properly. Two bloggers and a journalist were invited to test drive the cars on a stage of the journey in France.
This latest PSA Group initiative coincided with "The Experience", a European event held on 14 April 2016 as part of an informal summit of EU transport ministers in Amsterdam. In the lead-up to the summit, the European Council issued a statement urging manufacturers and governments to work together in order to step up research and development in the area of autonomous driving, bring about regulatory reform and introduce more advanced infrastructure.
The PSA Group took advantage of "The Experience", which was organised by the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and the City of Amsterdam, to present its two "eyes off" level 3 autonomous demonstrators. The EU transport ministers were given the opportunity to climb aboard autonomous vehicles from the different manufacturers and test drive them for a distance of several kilometres in real traffic conditions.
In July 2015, the PSA Group became the first carmaker to obtain the necessary approvals to test its self-driving cars on the open road in France. Four Citroën C4 Picasso prototypes have so far travelled more than 20,000 km, 12,500 miles, in autonomous mode, from Paris to Bordeaux and from Paris to Vigo in Spain. As from 2018, the PSA Group will offer driver-monitored automated driving features and, as from 2020, will introduce completely autonomous driving features enabling the driver to give the car full control.
*There are five levels to which autonomous vehicles can be automated: "hands on", "hands off", "eyes off", "mind off", and "driverless".