Renault starts public trial of its on-demand autonomous car service

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Reanult’s on-demand autonomous car service trial has commenced operation at the University of Paris-Saclay’s urban campus.

From October 14th to November 8th 2019, some 100 people will use two electric, autonomous and shared Renault Zoe Cab prototypes as part of the carmaker’s Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab project.

The daytime service, which runs Monday to Friday, from 11am to 6pm, features 12 pick-up/drop-off points chosen for their proximity to the most frequented areas and because they won’t disrupt traffic.

One Zoe Cab comes equipped with: a large fore-wing door that spans the length of the vehicle’s interior, allowing immediate access to front and rear seats; a section cut-off from the rest of the car’s interior for a safety officer so passengers get a glimpse of the future of autonomous mobility – with neither operator nor driver on board; and seats fitted with individual screens, speakers, and USB port, designed to create a private compartment for each passenger.

The other Zoe Cab comes equipped with: a larger rear door on the right-hand side for easier access; the front passenger seat facing backwards so passengers ride face-to-face; interior screens for all passengers to view and use on their trip; a service-specific mobile app by Marcel Saclay designed specifically for the Zoe Cab experiment, which enables users to hail a car when they need it or book it in advance.

Users indicate their position, destination and how many passengers they’re booking for. The Zoe Cab can also stop en-route to pick up another passenger for either the remainder of the trip or part thereof.

Depending on where the user is on campus when they place their booking, the app will direct them to the nearest meeting point and provide an estimated time of arrival for the vehicle.

Once the passenger is in the car, they can follow their trip via the app and know their ETA at the drop-off point.

Both Zoe Cabs are equipped with touch screens to assist passengers during their trip. Whether the screens are private or to be shared amongst the passengers depends on the car model.

On-board services include: ETA and real-time trip display; notification of additional passengers; temperature settings; touch screen brightness controls; and music.

Depending on which Zoe Cab prototype is used, music will be played through the car speakers or speakers built into the head-rest of the passenger who chose the music

One Zoe Cab, equipped with seats enabling each passenger to have their own private bubble, comes with a selection of soundscapes based on the technique of auditive neurostimulation. This technology draws on the way human hearing works to pinpoint where a sound comes from to create an immersive experience.

Three programmes are available: Activation: to wake up sleepy passengers; Power Nap: to help passengers nod off; and Relaxation: to help passengers evacuate built up tension.

Of the 100 people chosen by independent firm Eurosyn to be part of the experiment, participants had to meet specific criteria. This included: working, studying, and/or living on the Paris-Saclay urban campus and agreeing to use the service at least eight times throughout the four-week experiment period. Participants also had to be representative of the general campus population – university students, teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and admin staff.

At the end of the trial period, participants will be asked to share what they think about the overall service, mobile booking app, vehicle comfort levels, and on-board services.