Saturday, May 25, 2024

Renault Group to soon launch Level 4 autonomous robotized miniBus

Renault Group envisions technology as a tool for widespread benefit, emphasizing shared innovation that is economically accessible and genuinely useful to as many people as possible.

Advancements in technology now allow for increasingly effective driver assistance and delegation functions tailored to different vehicle types and usage scenarios.

Renault Group currently provides advanced driving assistance on most of its models, prioritizing comfort and safety. While complete vehicle autonomy remains a distant prospect due to existing regulations, customer expectations, and the high cost of complex technology, the company continues to explore further automation of certain functions.

The Group is currently working on an electric, robotized, and pre-equipped miniBus platform, which will integrate a variety of automation solutions from specialized partners. 

After several years of experimentation, the Group is set to announce new partnerships, including a collaboration with WeRide, a leading expert in autonomous vehicles. The first public transport demonstration under real conditions will take place in a few days during the Roland-Garros 2024 tennis tournament.

There is a widespread international agreement on 6 levels of “automated and autonomous driving,” ranging from level L0 with no driving assistance to level L5, the highest level where the vehicle would be fully autonomous in all situations and without any onboard operator.

When it comes to individual vehicles, Renault Group is focusing on achieving L2 or even L2+ level, offering top-level driving assistance features that ensure safety and an enjoyable driving experience with confidence, such as contextual cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and soon, the automatic overtaking function. Despite the assistance, the driver retains responsibility for driving.

The technological leap from level L2 automation to level L3 autonomy signifies a crucial shift, as vehicles must now operate safely in complex environments with minimal driver supervision. At this stage, the cost to customers in relation to the driving benefits could potentially limit demand significantly.

Simultaneously, the Group is ensuring that its vehicle architecture can adapt to autonomous driving if future expectations, regulations, or the cost of technologies make this advancement viable.

Furthermore, in the realm of public transportation, Renault Group recognizes the value of providing autonomous vehicles, with an anticipated annual requirement for several thousand miniBuses in the coming years.

In Europe, over 400 major cities are set to transition into low emission zones, while ensuring the continued mobility of their residents. Recognizing the advantages of autonomous public transportation, Renault Group has been conducting extensive trials to tailor the best solution for local authorities.

The “Mach 2 project,” slated for launch in 2023, will introduce a fleet of automated electric minibuses into the public transportation network of Chateauroux Metropole (France) by 2026.

Ultimately, these trials will lead Renault Group to offer a robotized electric miniBus platform based on the New Renault Master. This innovative platform will be capable of incorporating automation solutions from leading partners such as EasyMile, Milla, and WeRide.

With increased flexibility and autonomy, these miniBuses will operate around the clock in complete safety, offering a zero-emission alternative or a highly efficient complement to existing transportation options. The reduced need for onboard operators could offset the costs of robotization and automation, making this a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution. Additionally, a straightforward remote supervision system will be required to manage a fleet of these vehicles.