Renault took the wraps off a new autonomous vehicle that targets last-mile deliveries as competition for this exploding market continues to draw big interest and investment.
In the case of France’s Renault, the service would revolve around EZ-Pro, an electric self-driving pod that is designed to reach homes and businesses while reducing impact on traffic and urban congestion.
“Renault EZ-Pro shows our vision of last-mile delivery integrated with the ecosystem of smart cities of tomorrow and the needs of professionals,” said Ashwani Gupta, senior vice president for light commercial vehicles for Alliance, a partnership that includes Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi.
Renault is rolling out the concept this week at the Hannover Motor Show, which is focused this year on commercial trucking.
In the case of EZ-Pro, the vehicles are a series of driverless robo-pods that are modular and can be adapted to deliver different configurations of cargo. There would still be a human on board some vehicles, but their role would be simply to manage delivery and oversee the pods.
One human could supervise several other pods at the same time, eliminating the need for a person on each vehicle. Renault imagines the pods traveling either as a fleet in a platoon, or independently. In either case, all the pods are connected via a centralized platform, allowing them to make deliveries for one or multiple clients.
Renault also hopes the system will make it easier for customers to schedule delivery, either to their homes or via lockers that they can open with a smartphone app.
The latest vehicle follows Renault’s previous announcement of EZ-Go, its electric self-driving vehicle for people.
The company did not announce a timeline for when EZ-Pro would be commercially available.