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Renault reveals self-driving EZ-Pod concept

Connected, all-electric Renault EZ-Pod explores ‘last mile’ future mobility option

22 May 2019

RENAULT has revealed the EZ-Pod micro hatch, a concept it describes as “an exploratory electric and autonomous vehicle for on-demand travel over short distances”.


With a focus on the transportation of people or the delivery of goods, EZ-Pod only has a footprint of three square-metres and is touted by the French brand as “a limited-speed micro-mobility solution” that is “inclusive and safe”.


It has several applications, including as shuttle along pre-defined routes, where multiple EZ-Pods can team up to pick up travellers and take them to their destinations.


Due to EZ-Pod’s small size and slow speed, Renault says it is “less obtrusive in a crowded urban environment”, which makes it “flexible in use and socially acceptable”.


As such, it can operate within pedestrianised environments, such as carparks, shopping centres and airports, with trials already planned in dedicated zones.


Further in the future, EZ-Pod could receive approval to drive on pedestrian streets or right up to the entrances of buildings and houses to drop off people with limited mobility, such as the elderly. Either way, speed would not exceed 5km/h.


While the EZ-Pod concept is functional, it remains a work in progress, with feedback from users, fleet operators and city authorities to help shape its development.


“If we can tailor the autonomous vehicles of the future to our current needs – for instance, as passenger cars – it is certain these ground-breaking devices will generate new uses and applications that emerge as the experiments progress”, said Renault Group robo-vehicle program manager Frederic Auzas.


EZ-Pod shares its platform with the Twizy all-electric quadricycle, while its styling is aligned with that of the EZ-GO concept that was revealed at the Geneva motor show in March last year.


Its cabin goes without a traditional driver’s cockpit (dashboard, steering wheel and pedals) to become a Level 5 autonomous vehicle and provide occupants with extra room.


However, EZ-Pod only has one camera and one lidar sensor up front, and a pair of short- and long-range radars at either end plus two antennas and a GPS on the roof in order to create its very small footprint.


The focus on internal spaciousness also extends to its battery, which has been reduced in size to the absolute bare minimum required to complete short urban journeys.


EZ-Pod’s easy-to-clean interior features a plain design but is coloured, with its seats taken from the original Twizy, although their coverings have been replaced with more ecological materials.


When passengers use the large side opening to it, they are greeted by two displays that provide information about their journey, while the ambient lighting has ‘welcome’ and ‘goodbye’ themes.

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