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Renault’s PAMU Project Turns Fluence Z.E. EV Into Self-Driving, Self-Charging Car

When we told you about Renault’s prototype self-driving Zoe electric car, we had to admit to being a little disappointed. Although it could tackle autonomous driving tasks in specially-designated urban self-driving zones, the budget-consious autonomous technology in the prototype Zoe couldn’t go over 20 mph without human intervention, couldn’t detect pedestrians, animals or cyclists, and generally seemed a little… well… pointless. Frankly, we were a little disappointed at Renault’s attempts at self-driving technology.

…Until we saw Renault’s other autonomous driving technology, one which takes the sting out of parking, can arrive at your beckon call — a little like KITT out of Knight Rider — and never needs plugging in.

Meet the Plateform Avancée de Mobilité Urbain (Advanced Urban Mobility Platform) — a join collaboration between Renault and various engineering partners, including the University of Technology in Compiègne, the French Institute of Transportation Sciences and Technologies, the INRIA, ENSTA, Viveris, Acuminate, Viametris, Tecris, Cohda access, and Mobileye.

Funded by the General Council of Yvelynes, a French department in the region of Île-de-France, the project has kitted out a Renault Fluence Z.E. with the same kind of autonomous self-driving technology found in Nissan’s self-driving LEAF prototype, along with a beefy wireless telematics system and wireless charging technology.  Combined, they give the Fluence the ability to drive itself unattended around a parking lot, park itself and, most importantly, charge using wireless inductive charging technology when the parking space is fitted with it.

While this functionality may do away with professional valet drivers, the real-world implications of this technology spread far further than never having to find a parking spot again.

As Renault details in its accompanying video, an online booking system can be used to turn the PAMU car into the ultimate car sharing vehicle. Unlike current car sharing schemes, where users have to walk to specific locations to pick up their loaner car, this technology could enable the car you’re borrowing to literally pick you up at home or work.

The Self-driving Renault Fluence from the PAMU project can even charge itself using inductive charging

The Self-driving Renault Fluence from the PAMU project can even charge itself using inductive charging

Simply specify the time and location you’d like to borrow the car, and it will arrive at your door ready for you to drive away. Then, when you’re done, the car will quietly drive itself back to its charging spot. As well as obeying the usual traffic signs, and overtaking parked cars safely, this version of Renault self-driving technology can stop at crosswalks for pedestrians and we presume, detect other road users like animals and cyclists.

Admittedly, this particular technology is some way way from real-world implementation: while the video shows the car collecting various people from their offices, the technology is currently only operating on the private roads in and around Renault’s own Technical Centre, where environmental factors are far more controllable than they would be on public roads.

You’ve got to admit though: it’s a very cool start, isn’t it?


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