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Peugeot Instinct concept gets personal

Not far Hoff: The Peugeot Instinct concept is cleverer than Knight Rider star-car K.I.T.T. and combines technology that exists today to create a futuristic vision of how autonomous cars will become much more than transport.

Self-driving Peugeot Instinct concept adapts to mood and schedule of its driver


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27 Feb 2017

PEUGEOT is working to allay fears that autonomous cars will be boring and samey with its Instinct concept that draws data from the owner’s cloud accounts, smart devices, electronic schedule, social media, home automation systems and driving history to second-guess their needs and desires.

Despite all the far-sighted technological thinking, the French firm has maintained human control for two of the Instinct’s four operating modes as part of its “enduring commitment to driving pleasure”.

Unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain this week, the 224kW plug-in hybrid Instinct concept is a four-seat shooting brake with clear Ferrari GTC4Lusso styling overtures and huge rear-hinged ‘suicide’ doors providing pillarless cabin access.

Combining Samsung Artik cloud computing infrastructure and data science technology from Sentiance, all information shared by and gathered about the driver is aggregated, analysed and used to turn the Instinct concept into a kind of mobile personal assistant and extension of the home or office.

Peugeot considers a car as a valuable information source “because it is with us throughout our day and knows our regular journeys, favourite places and how we drive”.

For example, comparing the driver’s schedule with traffic and weather data, the Instinct can advise an earlier departure time for work. And because its on-board systems are synchronised with the driver’s music streaming service, they can seamlessly pick up where they left off on the playlist they were listening to at home.

Later on, the car senses the driver had a strenuous gym session and drives them home in the restful ‘Autonomous Soft’ mode, even making sure the house lights are on when they get there. Conversely, it will encourage the driver to park a 10-minute walk from their workplace to help them stay fit.

‘Autonomous Sharp’ mode is the Instinct’s more urgent self-driving mode, with ‘Drive Boost’ letting the driver take over for some fun behind the fold-out steering wheel and retractable pedals. It even knows when they are approaching a dynamic or favourite road and switches mode appropriately.

The final mode, ‘Drive Relax’ is a halfway house in which the human is in control but assisted by features such as adaptive cruise control and auto high beam.

Even in autonomous mode, the driver can instruct the Instinct to perform certain manoeuvres, such as overtaking, using a controller on the central console that Peugeot describes as an i-Device. The same controller can be used to switch driving modes at any time.

Peugeot head of strategy Aude Brille described connected devices and online services as having become “extensions of ourselves”.

“At Peugeot we have integrated this technology into our cars in increasingly simple and ergonomic ways, offering our clients a relaxed, empowering and wholly unprecedented driving experience – one that puts our clients in control of their own mobility, granting them complete autonomy,” he said.

The Instinct is typical as a Peugeot concept car in terms of exploring new interior materials, such as fixed aluminium seat bases with a 3D mesh fabric supporting the bodies of occupants, whose feet rest on polished concrete floor coverings and heads are supported by a combination of leather and mesh.

Voice control technology can also be used to book tickets or make online purchases, in a similar way to Amazon’s Alexa service. Each of the four passengers can access their own voice control channel.

The driving seat faces a holographic instrument cluster that displays vehicle speed, drivetrain status and battery charge level and information from the various external cameras and sensors.

During autonomous travel the display switches to show distanced covered, remaining journey time and entertainment options.

Although there is much going on inside the Instinct concept technologically, Peugeot has not omitted to make a splash with the exterior styling.

The long bonnet hints at the potent plug-in hybrid drivetrain beneath, while the large arch-filling wheels and prominent rear haunches demonstrate this is an autonomous car to also enjoy driving.

LED headlights integrate some of the cameras used to scan the road during autonomous driving, while the Peugeot lion emblem is underlined by a strip of white light to notify other road users when one of the self-driving modes are activated.

The LED light strakes at each end of the dot-matrix grille double as guides to channel air over the front wheels and improve aerodynamics by providing a virtual fairing.

From there backwards the Instinct has a coach-built look with sharp creases and sculpted flanks flowing along the metallic blue bodywork.

It ends with a broad shooting brake rear, with six 3D-look tail-lights and a glass tailgate designed to look like a continuation of the full-length panoramic sunroof.

Peugeot head of concept cars Matthias Hossann said the Instinct “builds on the factors that have made the brand’s latest models so successful”.

“We are creating new forms of driving pleasure. These may come from the interfaces, the architecture or the styling. There is no reason why a self-driving car should be dull to look at or to experience.”

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