At the LeWeb’13 conference in Paris a short while ago, Renault demonstrated their NEXT TWO concept, showcasing the latest automotive technology the French firm was working on. Coupled with fast 4G internet speeds and high performance computing, the NEXT TWO concept allowed passengers to access a variety of multimedia and technology at their fingertips on a large and very prototype looking centrally mounted touch screen.
Renault’s work in autonomous driving has been less mentioned, however, until now. With CEO Carlos Ghosn behind the wheel of the modified ZOE NEXT TWO concept, we get to see what autonomous driving is all about.
Ironically, automotive makers who’ve delved into autonomous driving seem intent on using antiquated paper newspapers, rather than digital versions, to show the ability of a driver doing another task other than driving, while sat behind the wheel. Although Renault too show this as a possible use of your time behind the wheel, it is slightly refreshing to see Mr Ghosn stating that the use of the onboard computer is perhaps a better use of your time. For example, if you hit traffic due to an accident (presumably between non-automated driving vehicles), then putting the car into automated driving mode while it creeps through traffic gives you ample opportunity to start up a remote meeting session using the on-board computer.
Perhaps that’s a worthwhile use of automated driving and a decent example of it’s genuine benefit. However, the flip side is that if the meeting is possible from a distance, why travel in the first place?
The good thing about Renault’s approach is they’ve not forgotten that people actually do like, and enjoy, driving. So the automated mode is merely a backup for times when driving isn’t necessarily fun, such as in rush hour. Carlos Ghosn states,
“If you want to drive, you drive, if not you select autonomous mode: The car becomes a partner.”
Video source; Renault