Renault Claims Success with Three-Year AV Project

Renault says it has completed its three-year real-world autonomous driving project claiming success with both its technology and consumer confidence.

Starting in September 2017 in a region to the southwest of Paris, the Tornado project, led by the automaker and Rambouillet Territoires, collaborated with 10 industrial and academic partners to test the requirements for autonomous mobility services to work in less populated and less dense suburban and rural areas. The project was divided into two parts firstly with Renault Zoe autonomous capable vehicles going beyond city limits.

The goal was to have a car drive autonomously over an eight-mile journey encompassing all of these varying features and challenges. This journey was a route that would be a direct feeder service between Gazeran train station and Bel Air business park.

The outcomes of this included the following:

  • Enhancing the autonomous vehicle’s perception capabilities, enabling it to sense the surroundings within a 360-degree field, including type of object, size and distance from the vehicle, in real time
  • Being able to locate and control the autonomous vehicle with 8-inches accuracy to ensure it stays on its path, on very narrow roads, regardless of the roadside conditions – for example with or without painted lines or just a verge
  • Dealing with temporary loss of GPS signal or operating with zero visibility, for example when driving through one-lane tunnels where priority is given to one side or the other
  • Reaching speeds that are deemed acceptable by everyday drivers and passengers and that match regular traffic speeds

Over the eight-mile stretch, tests were conducted on connected infrastructure components such as connected traffic lights and fixed cameras that enable vehicles to see objects beyond their field of perception.

The second part of the project was an autonomous shuttle service working within the business park itself. Users called on the service via the same mobile app as the autonomous Renault Zoe, synced together to provide a continuous, seamless service between the vehicles. Key areas this focused on were advanced perception capabilities, using the connected infrastructure’s capabilities to broaden perception, and ensure the vehicle stayed within its safety perimeters.

The vehicles used were autonomous Renault Zoe Cab prototypes, used during the daytime to move around the Paris-Saclay urban campus and for everyday mobility – going to one of the schools or laboratories on campus, head to lunch or play sports.

One of the vehicles was equipped with a large door on one side of the vehicle spanning the length of the interior, allowing easy access to the whole cabin. On the other prototype, a large rear door on the passenger side allows access to rear seats and the rear-facing front passenger seat. This version provided the environment users expect from a car sharing service. Both versions feature screens inside so passengers can view their trip, as well as a mobile app to hail the cars and a range of advanced features to keep passengers comfortable and entertained.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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