Renault Showcases EZ-POD Autonomous Vehicle For First And Last Mile Connectivity
Groupe Renault has showcased its new autonomous vehicle, the EZ-POD electric robo-vehicle, at the recently concluded Viva Technology exhibition, in Paris. The new Renault EZ-POD, which is touted as the future of shared micro-mobility, has been designed to transport people and goods over short distances. This electric autonomous vehicle will work as an on-demand mobility service for an urban environment. Like an electric scooter, the Renault EZ-POD too is small (only 3-metre-long) and comes with a limited top-speed, making it ideal for the micro-mobility space.
The Renault EZ-POD is built on the Renault Twizys chassis and platform and is inspired by the EZ-GO and EZ-PRO concepts that were showcased last year. The technical challenge here, for Renault, was to take the all-electric Twizys platform and create a compact design that eliminates a drivers cockpit and incorporates the autonomous technology. The fact the vehicle is designed to do only low speeds made it feasible to rationalize the number of sensors. So, the EZ-POD comes fitted with one camera and one Lidar on the front to scan the scene ahead, plus short and long-range radars located behind the cars shiny black front and rear trim. Furthermore, the robo-vehicle also comes with two antennas and a GPS in the roof, for real-time position tracking and connectivity.
Talking about the technology, Frederic Auzas, Robo-vehicle Program Manager at Groupe Renault said, "If we can tailor the autonomous vehicles of the future to our current needs - for instance, as passenger cars - it is certain these ground-breaking devices will generate new uses and applications that emerge as the experiments progress." Technical details of the EZ-POD were not shared with us as its still in the development stage, however, talking about range, Auzas said that it would depend on the kind of application as different usage would merit a different kind of battery and range requirement.
Renault says that the EZ-POD can be used for multiple applications, like when it comes to transporting people, unlike a shuttle, which runs along pre-defined routes, several pods can be combined to pick up travellers and bring them to their destination. Also, its low-speed small footprint makes it suitable for transportation within pedestrianized environments like airports, car parks and shopping centres, where it will be trialled in dedicated zones. Another possible use would be as a follower-pod for a "follow me"-type delivery application.
The people carrier version features a big opening on the side, so people can get in and out easily and fast and comes with two side facing seats with seatbelts and an emergency stop button. There are two screens that provide information about the journey and the interior lighting system enables to play "welcome" and "goodbye" ambiences and well as give status updates on the EZ-POD. The goods delivery version is likely to feature none of these and come with simple a stacking space.