We are not very distant from a time when cars start driving themselves and become completely autonomous. Well, in that case, the first question that comes across, will automotive journalists go extinct? But that’s something we’ll talk about some other day. For now, as the act of driving appears to be going out of fashion, rather fast, automakers are making great strides by investing in a technology that will make driving, or travelling in cars an autonomous task.
Well, the first one we witnessed is Renault’s all-new Zoe that’s fitted with a raft of electronics for the sake of being driverless. So, without much-a-do let’s start with the Renault Zoe Autonomous review.
What is It?
It’s the French auto maker’s take on the autonomous space. And while we have not witnessed the Renault Zoe in the Indian market, this one is a heavily modified version of the same. You see, the car you see here is actually a prototype fitted with a host of electronic aids for the fully autonomous serviceability, or rather semi-autonomous functionality. For the moment, the Zoe is restricted to the campus of the University of Paris-Saclay on the outskirts of Paris. This comes as a part of a project in contribution from Renault, a public transport multinational, the Transdev Group, technology companies IRT SystemX & VEDECOM and, of course, the University of Paris-Saclay.
So why do we need an autonomous vehicle? Well, it’s completely imminent that the conveyance of having an autonomous car is bound to be the next big thing for the automotive world. That said, in order to achieve this paradigm shift in the automotive industry, it requires access to technologies and solutions that are far beyond the scope of an average automaker. And since the car is just one part of the hardware, the propulsion system and the wheels – which in this case are electric – consist of IT and cybersecurity experts at the backend to ensure that the vehicle is impossible to hack or gain control remotely.
At the Heart of Saclay!
For the time being, the autonomous Zoe is restricted to operate within the University of Paris-Saclay. To benefit from it, the autonomous car is meant to provide a shuttle service inside the campus for a select group of primitives and allow them to wander inside the campus in a car that basically has a mind of its own. And what’s also respectable is the fact that the French government prohibits companies from charging patrons for such a service, so yes, it’s free for the moment.
But Who is in the Driver’s Seat?
For the moment, there is a safety driver dwelled behind the wheel who needs to take the wheel at any moment if needed, remember I stated earlier it’s still in prototype disguise? Having said that, in our time during the Zoe Autonomous review, the safety driver didn’t need to take control even once, that certainly explains how good it is. That said, the Zoe was able to navigate through the intersections, junctions and even single-lane roads without breaking a sweat. The only time the Zoe broke a sweat was when it encountered pedestrians, especially joggers and pedestrians that literally came out of nowhere.
Je Suis autonome!
As of now, Renault is testing a number of prototypes of the Zoe – some that come laden with enough tech on board to farouche the engineers at NASA. Puns aside, the top-to-brim loaded Zoe doesn’t have to rely on any sensors or radars along the road. That said, there are some prototypes that have less amount of tech and certainly rely on the infrastructure around them.
In my opinion, it makes sense to have a vehicle with fewer state-of-the-art technologies to operate autonomously as that would help in keeping the costs in check, considering the fact the LIDAR tech is crazy-expensive. That aside, the Renault Zoe proves that the French auto maker is very serious about autonomous technology and it could be the next big thing in the automotive space. And for me, being an enthusiast, well I better update my skills to remain relevant. To read our full Renault Zoe Autonomous review and to dip into our editor’s opinion, be sure to tune in to autoX.