Symbioz, the great leap forward of Renault in autonomous drivingAutomotive News
We have been able to verify the effectiveness of the technology of the future.
If a few years ago I would have been told that I was going to travel as a driver of a car driven only by the French motorways, wearing a virtual reality headset and watching a kind of animated film, I would have said to the above I was crazy But the truth is that I just did, at 128 km / h, around Paris and with three other passengers, thanks to the Renault Symbioz, the laboratory for the autonomous car of Renault, a car capable of taking charge of driving 100% -for now on highways- that the brand plans to market in 2023.
In reality, the virtual reality helmet is nothing more than a way to demonstrate the ability of the vehicle to transport us with complete safety in this “simple” and closed environment that is the highway. A habitat that will star in the baptism of fire of the self-employed of all brands before making the leap to the much more complicated reality of driving in the rest of the roads with an end in the city.
Its technology is based on a system of 34 sensors including cameras, radars and lasers of various ranges. They recognize their environment and overlap it with a system of Tom Tom’s digital maps with a margin of error of less than 15 centimeters.
From the hotel to the highway I drive in manual mode. The prototype does not feel very agile at low speeds, which does not help their 2,200 kg of weight. In addition, its dimensions – especially its width of almost two meters (1.92 cm) – make us go with caution in the narrow country roads, since we are driving a car of which there are no more units and, if something happened, we would throw down the work of many people for many months. An added note of stress is given by the square shape of a nice steering wheel for a concept but it must be replaced when this Symbioz ends up on the production line, since it does not make driving easier.
In this first section I drive the prototype first in Classic mode, which has a focus on comfort, and then, once the asphalt and road conditions improve, I drive in Dynamic, when its two electric motors associated with the rear wheels they could shoot you up to 100 km / h in six seconds thanks to their up to 671 HP of power and 66 Nm of torque sets.
The passage between the two modes is done by pressing the logo located in the center of the steering wheel, at which time the golden illumination of its interior changes to red. An interesting detail, since the car is designed to be almost an extension of the house, a living room added. Its interior benefits from its generous exterior measurements, with a length of 4.92 meters and its glass roof to create a warm and comfortable atmosphere inside. Almost too comfortable, with ergonomics not too high in the driving position.
Without hands or feet
But of course, the good comes when we reach the highway and the car allows us -have recognized thanks to the mapping that we are in a permitted area- that we insert the AD or autonomous mode. We simply press two buttons simultaneously on the spokes of the steering wheel for three seconds and Symbioz warns us that he has taken charge of everything. We can let go of the steering wheel and forget the pedals. The inner light becomes blue, so that we have awareness that we do not have to touch anything.
At this moment, I would touch relax and devote to check the mail, read a book or take a little nap. We analyze how Symbioz stays in the lane, reaches 130 km / h when circumstances permit, overtakes a truck and even makes a double-lane overtaking when checking that no danger comes from behind and that a car slower than us has occupied the center lane at a lower speed than ours.
Then we come to a toll, the white lines of the asphalt are lost and Symbioz reduces the speed and cautiously between cars that are crossing to choose the least busy gate, it is directed to the one by which it can pass automatically without the driver having to worry about nothing. The narrowness of the step makes Symbioz move slowly making some noisy corrections, but with total security not only for passengers, but for the integrity of its body and mechanics.
The barrier rises, moment in which they suggest us to wear the virtual reality helmet. Now, yes, with the test passed, we immerse ourselves in a world of avatars with complete confidence in the capabilities of Symbioz and let our minds fly in a future that will be, we do not know if better, but at least different.
EXPANSION – BY DAVID ARROYO – 12/14/2017 (Translation Soft)