To get end-to-end visibility into all aspects of its business from concept to production, and build a virtual twin of its factory, Milla Group chose the 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud. The company used the Bid to Win and On-Target Vehicle Launch industry solution experiences to design its vehicles and establish a rigorous, closely-monitored manufacturing process with high levels of traceability – all informed by real-world data.

(Photo © Milla Group)

Driving towards shared autonomous mobility for all

French company Milla Group has an ambitious goal: to redefine the future of mobility by developing transport solutions for people and goods that optimize journeys in ways that no other autonomous transport company has achieved to date.

“Our objectives are twofold,” said Frédéric Mathis, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “We want to facilitate modal transfer by bringing people closer to mobility nodes such as train, metro and tram stations. We also want to participate in regional planning by making business and commercial areas more accessible, especially in less densely populated regions. Thus, our approach favors shared, electric and agile mobility, which can be perceived as an on-demand transport service.”

To this end, Milla has developed an autonomous shuttle that can carry up to 22 people, resulting in cheaper fares for passengers, while cutting CO2 emissions and contributing to alleviating congestion. The company is also working with French rail company SNCF on an ultra-light shuttle that can travel on both rail and roads to provide first- and last-kilometer services in villages and residential areas with rail lines nearby. It is also transforming goods delivery by collaborating with La Poste on an automated transport service for Carrefour customers in the Plateau de Saclay area of France.

Innovating quickly in a fiercely competitive industry like autonomous mobility requires agility. That’s why Milla has chosen to develop its autonomous vehicles using Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud.

Streamlining autonomous vehicle development

Developing an autonomous vehicle is complex, particularly for a startup company. Safety is Milla’s top priority – it is aiming for standards of reliability and protection that are significantly higher than those of traditional passenger vehicles.

In addition, the company needs to integrate a robust mobile connection, such as 4G or 5G, to ensure the shuttle remains constantly connected to a supervision center capable of intervening at any time. Advanced cameras and sensors are also necessary, both for autonomous operation and to provide remote supervisors with a real-time panoramic view of the vehicle’s interior and exterior environment via Milla’s specially designed software.

By adopting the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, Milla discovered that it could build these features into its vehicles from the outset. “Achieving a high level of safety requires a rigorous and closely monitored manufacturing process, with perfect traceability,” Mathis said. “Without this, it would be impossible to obtain the necessary approval for our shuttles. This is where the importance of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform becomes evident.”

Using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, we can design highly technological machines. [...] A virtual twin gives us the flexibility to adapt our production chain in a scalable way. If we need, we can quickly add a new production line or various workstations, safe in the knowledge that they will work as required.

Milla Group CEO Frederic Mathis portrait > Dassault Systemes
Frédéric Mathis
co-founder and CEO, Milla Group

A single platform supporting all processes

With the 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud acting as a single source of truth, Milla now has end-to-end visibility into all aspects of its business, from design to manufacturing.

“Using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, we can design highly technological machines, which go beyond the notion of prototype to reach the status of an approved vehicle ready for the market,” Mathis said.

It’s this ability to produce a complete autonomous vehicle and not just software on wheels that sets Milla apart – a capability afforded by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

“Our specificity lies in our mastery of the entire process, from secure manufacturing to software integration, operated via dedicated operating platforms,” Mathis said. “This allows us to offer our customers a global solution to deploy a true mobility service.”

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides Milla with full visibility of all processes from design through to manufacturing.

Expediting success with a virtual twin

The concept of a virtual twin was particularly important to Milla. The company turned to Dassault Systèmes business partner Visiativ for help.

“Visiativ played a key role in helping us implement a factory pilot project, including the integration of a virtual twin,” Mathis said. “It was a key facilitator in this process and continues to support us daily in our use and deployment of Dassault Systèmes solution.”

By using DELMIA on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, Milla was able to create a dynamic digital twin of its entire facilities, processes and products – all informed by real-world data. This allows it to track the entire manufacturing process with unparalleled precision. It can then use SIMULIA to validate production processes upfront, minimizing the risk of rework or downtime on the factory floor.

“A virtual twin gives us the flexibility to adapt our production chain in a scalable way,” Mathis said. “If we need, we can quickly add a new production line or various workstations, safe in the knowledge that they will work as required.”

The virtual twin also enables Milla to validate new processes and eliminate bottlenecks before they become problematic and ensure its solutions meet stringent regulations.

“Careful monitoring is essential especially for innovative products such as autonomous vehicles that must quickly adapt to the integration of new technologies, such as advanced sensors,” Mathis said. “That’s what the 3DEXPERIENCE platform allows while minimizing reliance on physical prototypes, which can often be a drain on resources and increase time to market.”

French start-up Milla designs and manufactures a range of autonomous transport solutions, including shuttle buses, pods and delivery vans, for both people and goods.

A foundation for growth

Milla’s success is plain to see. It has developed 30 varieties of autonomous vehicles, 20 of which are already operational.

“Our ambition is to produce 1,000 vehicles, including the rail-road models developed in collaboration with SNCF, and to have this production capacity fully operational by 2030,” Mathis said.

By enabling collaborative work and by ensuring data quality, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud will play an instrumental role in helping Milla to scale and grow, while meeting the challenges associated with vehicle development, from concept through to validation. It helps the company to ensure the same quality and robustness for different types of vehicles, whether rail-road shuttles, standard road vehicles or vehicles dedicated to the transport of goods.

“We aim to continue and deepen our collaboration with Visiativ and Dassault Systèmes to meet tomorrow’s mobility needs,” Mathis concluded.

Milla Group logo autonomous shared vehicles > Dassault Systemes

Focus on Milla Group

Milla Group has positioned itself as a pioneer in new mobility. Its primary mission is to develop innovative services through autonomous shuttles with an integrated operating system. Milla’s flagship offering, its Light Autonomous Vehicle (LAV) series, allows it to offer an operational transport solution on open roads. These vehicles reach an average speed of 30 km/h and can go up to 50 km/h in autonomous mode, all without requiring any specific infrastructure or dedicated lanes.

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Visiativ partner logo > Dassault Systemes

Focus on Visiativ

With 25 years of customer experience, Visiativ enables industrial companies to drive innovation, increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve quality through the integration and resourceful use of innovative technology solutions. It delivers tailor-made support to businesses, helping to facilitate their digital transformation and build new experiences for their entire ecosystem.