Last updated on April 22nd, 2020 at 11:35 am
Renault has teamed up with Université Paris-Saclay to trial autonomous electric taxis. The car manufacturer is providing a pair of Zoe all-electric vehicles for a special trial that'll involve a panel of around 100 people. The taxi service will run between 14 October to 8 November and is aimed to help ease congestion.
Each taxi has a slightly different configuration, allowing scientists from the Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab to analyse the effectiveness of each design.
Version one will resemble the seats on an airliner, where passengers will be facing forwards, have their own screens, speakers and even a USB power port to charge their smartphones. This layout is likely to cost considerably more, as each passenger is effectively provided with their own ‘travel experience bubble'. Part of that experience includes the ability to create an Atmos-style 3D soundscape – here, participants will be able to choose from three pre-assigned profiles: Activation (to wake you up), Power Nap and Relaxation.
Version two will be much simpler, with seats that face each other, to encourage interaction. The Zoe Cab will come equipped with a few on-board services, where passengers can adjust the cabin's temperature settings, play some music and even receive notification of additional passengers joining their trip.
Controlled by a special hailing app called ‘Marcel Saclay', the taxis will have the ability to intelligently pick up additional passengers en route – similar to a lift in a large building. You can hail the cab as you need it or book ahead to secure your space on the vehicle. As well as the pickup location, participants can also specify how many passengers are with them; an Uber-like approach.
To minimise the impact on other road users, the initial trial will only collect and drop-off from 12 select locations.
The representative selection of passengers on the pilot scheme were chosen by sensory evaluation experts, Eurosyn. Each has agreed to undertake at least 32 journeys – spread evenly over a four week period.
The university will decide the next phase after all the data has been collected and analysed.
Public-facing tests, in a ‘limited environment', will provide valuable information for companies that want to develop commercial taxi services on a larger scale in the future. It's the next step in the prototype cycle and we're encouraged that such a prestigious university has committed to this programme. By the end of the trial period, participants will be asked to share their experiences – from the booking app to the car's on-board services.
For more information about the project visit Renault's website.