Renault shifts self-driving focus from cars to minibuses

The company acknowledges that the integration of advanced autonomy would make such vehicles more expensive to develop and build than their manually operated counterparts, but says these could be offset by not needing a paid driver. Rather, an entire fleet of vehicles could be supervised remotely by a much smaller workforce. 

Cementing this new ambition, Renault Group has partnered with Sino-American technology company WeRide (in which it has already invested through the Alliance’s capital venture arm), to trial Level 4-capable autonomous shuttles on public roads.

WeRide has some 700 autonomous vehicles in operation globally, clocking up a combined 17 million miles in operation. 

The two firms will operate an “experimental” shuttle service using WeRide’s Robobus people mover at the French Open tennis tournament in Paris beginning later this month. 

Renault Group’s chief technology officer Gilles Le Borgne said the move is a significant step in the company’s plans to bring self-driving vehicles to production: “Renault Group is moving forward to implement its autonomous vehicle strategy. 

“As a result, thanks to our experiments and our partners, the best in their fields, we will be in a position, well before the end of this decade, to propose a highly relevant range of autonomous, low-carbon miniBuses to meet the growing needs of the regions.”

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