The self-driving vehicle initiative by Renault Group ushering in a bold level 4 proposition for urban transport soon

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Renault Group embraces a practical approach to technology, emphasizing that innovation holds value when it is accessible, shared, and genuinely beneficial to a wide audience.

Advances in technology now enable the provision of increasingly efficient driver assistance and delegation capabilities tailored to different vehicle types and applications.

For personal vehicles, Renault Group presently delivers high-quality driving assistance on the majority of its models, ensuring comfort and safety. While complete vehicle autonomy remains a distant goal due to existing regulations, customer expectations, and the intricate technology costs, the Group continues incrementally automating certain functions.

In the realm of public transit, Renault Group envisions becoming a significant contributor to sustainable and self-sufficient mobility. As part of this vision, the Group is creating an electric, automated miniBus platform equipped to accommodate diverse automation solutions offered by specialized partners.

After years of trials, including an upcoming collaboration with WeRide, a renowned autonomy expert in the public transportation sector, Renault Group is gearing up for a live demonstration of autonomous public transit during the Roland-Garros 2024 tennis event.

Renault Group’s autonomous vehicle approach

An international consensus defines six levels of “automated and autonomous driving,” varying from level L0 with no driving assistance to level L5, where vehicles operate autonomously without on-board supervision in any scenario.

For individual vehicles, Renault Group concentrates on achieving level L2, with advanced driving assistance features that enhance safety and driving comfort, such as contextual cruise control and lane-keeping assist. The goal is to empower drivers while retaining their responsibility on the road.

The transition from level L2 automation to level L3 autonomy poses a significant technological challenge as vehicles must operate securely in complex environments with limited driver oversight. At this juncture, the costs associated with driving benefits could deter significant demand.

However, Renault Group is diligently planning for a future where their vehicle architecture can evolve to support autonomous driving should regulations, expectations, or the cost landscape allow such advancements.

In contrast, for public transit, Renault Group recognizes the importance of offering autonomous vehicles, foreseeing a demand for several thousand miniBuses in the coming years.

The imperative of autonomous miniBuses in public transit

With over 400 major cities in Europe transitioning into low-emission zones while ensuring adequate mobility for residents, autonomous public transportation presents itself as a compelling solution.

Renault Group’s ongoing trials aim to address the requirements of local authorities, as demonstrated by the “Mach 2 project” slated for integration into the Chateauroux Metropole public transit network from 2026.

Ultimately, Renault Group seeks to introduce a robotized electric miniBus platform derived from the New Renault Master, capable of integrating automation solutions from leading partners like EasyMileMilla, and WeRide.

With enhanced flexibility, autonomous miniBuses offer round-the-clock operation with zero emissions, providing a cost-effective and eco-friendly supplement to existing transport modes such as trains, trams, and buses. The absence of on-board operators could offset additional automation costs, necessitating only remote supervision for fleet management.

WeRide: A global authority in autonomous vehicles

Renault Group embarks on a new collaboration with WeRide, a distinguished player in autonomous driving, for the widespread deployment of L4 autonomous vehicles capable of independent operation within defined operational domains, albeit with remote supervision and no on-board operators.

Renault Group’s investment in WeRide back in 2018 foresaw the escalating demand for collective autonomous mobility, propelling WeRide to a leadership position with over 700 autonomous vehicles, including 300 miniBuses, covering more than 28 million km across Asia, the Middle East, and North America – with Europe soon to follow.

Renault Group is progressing towards the realization of its autonomous vehicle strategy. Through our partnerships and groundbreaking experiments, we are poised to offer a compelling range of autonomous, eco-friendly miniBuses well before the end of this decade, meeting the evolving needs of regions.

Gilles Le Borgne, CTO Renault Group

SOURCE: Renault Group

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