Renault to focus on automating public transport

Renault have announced their strategic approach to the development of autonomous vehicles, indicating a focus on public transport, rather than private vehicles.

Private car drivers are not being ignored but Renault believe this is a market that would be happier with driver assistance technology, rather than full automation.

Referring to the six levels of vehicles automation (see chart below), the French manufacturer are convinced that the general public need no more than what they call Level 2+. That is, advanced semi automated systems such as contextual cruise control or lane keeping assist, or the automatic overtaking function which will soon be available. Essentially, allowing the driver to remain responsible for driving but making the experience as painless as possible.

One of the reasons for doing this is the leap between Level 2 and Level 3 technologies. Renault believe the cost that this would add to the vehicle would be so great in relation to the driving benefits, that customers would not be interested.

Stating their belief that innovation only makes sense if it is shared, economically accessible and genuinely useful to as many people as possible, Renault explain that, for public transport, they will be leaping straight from Level 2 to Level 4 (Automated driving in most conditions). 

The company has been conducting trials with automated vehicles for some years and from 2026 a fleet of automated electric minibuses will be  integrated into the public transportation network of Chateauroux Metropole in France.

Going further, Renault today announced a collaboration with WeRide, experts in autonomous driving, for the large-scale commercial deployment of vehicles with an L4 level of autonomy.

WeRide have more than 700 autonomous vehicles in service (including 300 miniBuses) that have travelled more than 28m km in Asia, the Middle East, and North America and with this new partnership, they will be adding Europe to that map.

As a premium partner of the Roland-Garros tennis tournament, which begins at the end of this month, Renault, together with WeRide, will trial their autonomous shuttles by transporting visitors to and from a car park on the outskirts of the Bois-de-Boulogne to the Roland-Garros stadium.

Gilles Le Borgne, CTO Renault Group said: ‘Renault Group is moving forward to implement its autonomous vehicle strategy. As a result, thanks to our experiments and our partners, the best in their fields, we will be in a position, well before the end of this decade, to propose a highly relevant range of autonomous, low-carbon miniBuses to meet the growing needs of the regions.’

Levels of automation:

Level 0 No automation
Level 1 Semi-automated systems, like cruise control.
Level 2 Semi-automated systems, like steering, speed and braking.
Level 3 Automated driving in some conditions, driver available to take over
Level 4 Automated driving in most conditions
Level 5 Automated driving in all conditions



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