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by Matt Campbell

Buyers keen on using no fuel and expending none of their own energy while commuting will likely be excited by the Renault Next Two prototype.

The French brand’s new Zoe EV-based hatchback test car is described by Renault as its vision of “an autonomous electric vehicle for the year 2020”.

It features a radar, ultrasonic sensors front and rear, a front camera for autonomous driving, another front camera for navigation and augmented reality and a rear camera, all of which is connected to a control unit hidden under the boot of the car that is linked to the steering, accelerator and brakes.

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Inside, it features a driver-facing camera for “video conferences”, a massaging seat and a large central screen that can project video chat hookups and also display an augmented reality image from the car’s computers.

The car has been undergoing testing with the goal of freeing the driver “from the task of driving to give him spare-time back in precise and useful situations”, and Renault claims it can drive itself in congested traffic up to 30km/h, and, using an “Automated Valet Parking” function, find a spot to park itself in and make all the necessary movements to do so, provided the parking area is equipped for automated cars.

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Renault says the car allows the driver or passengers to connect to the web to work while they’re on the road, and confirmed the program is part of a shared initiative with partner brand Nissan and other technology and engineering partners.

Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said the Next Two prototype is designed to “combine the worlds of delegated driving and connectivity”.

“Not only will autonomous driving enhance safety but it will also free up time for drivers,” Ghosn said. “Being connected will enable them to make the most of this extra time by providing them with access to new in-car services such as video-conferences, on-line shopping, travel information and more.”

Renault claims congestion sees city motorists waste between 60 and 80 hours of their time every year in Europe and the US. It also claims more than 16 billion litres of fuel is wasted as a result of traffic congestion.




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