Remember the Symbioz concept Renault showcased at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September? Well, now the demo car is ready with a more practical body and interiors, which almost looks like its ready for the market.
Renault says, this is the first rolling prototype that gives us a more near-term experience to 2023. Renault wants to demonstrate the real-life conditions in a car that is electric, autonomous and connected.
The Symbioz gets Level 4 autonomous capability, which is highly automated, and is also called “mind-off”. Level 4 frees the driver from all driving tasks when the car’s automated driving system is switched on. It is no longer necessary for the driver to concentrate on the road ahead. The car is capable of moving into a safe position if it cannot deal with an unexpected incident ahead. On authorized highways or dual roads with a median strip, the Symbioz can adjust the vehicle’s speed in accordance with the car in front, stay in its lane even when cornering, change lanes (i.e. to overtake another car or exit the highway) and function alone in traffic jams.
Three driving modes and three journey experiences
Courtesy of the Renault Multi-Sense 3.0 system, the Symbioz demo car features three driving modes:
- The Classic mode is the standard mode. The driving position is conventional and the car’s settings are focused on comfort.
- The Dynamic mode boosts driving sensations. Driving is more active and the driver’s seat features additional lateral support for a bucket seat feel. The engine response, steering and chassis settings are all geared towards a dynamic driving style.
- The AD mode optimizes the space available in front of the driver to permit a variety of hands-off activities. When the AD mode is switched on, the steering wheel and dashboard – which comes with a unique L-shaped display (developed by LG) – automatically moves back 12 cm. The driving mode is selected by pushing the Renault logo, which is lit up like a hologram in the middle of the steering wheel.
In AD mode, the driver can choose from three layouts.
- The Alone@Home layout frees up space by retracting the steering wheel and dashboard and taking advantage of the extra legroom.
- The Relax layout enables the driver to sit back and cruise with their seat in ‘zero gravity’ position. The driver can also be at the heart of a virtual reality of a few minutes, developed by Ubisoft.
- The Lounge layout lets the driver move closer to the person in the front passenger seat. The front armrests lower automatically and the seats turn 10 degrees towards each other to facilitate
conversations between the driver and front-seat passenger.
As for the other tech, the passenger’s personal agenda is displayed on the home TV, updated via smartphone, tablet or PC and shared between the car and the home. Fifteen minutes prior to departure, trip information is displayed on the home TV and the tablet inside the house. This will include the destination, hotel booking, and an option to update Facebook, among other information options.
The driver can call the car on their smartwatch (connected to their smartphone) as well. The car then picks up the driver and passengers – this is the ‘valet parking’ feature associated with the car’s autonomous drive mode. The driver can watch the car approach from outside, courtesy of a bird’s-eye view camera.
Powering the Symbioz are two electric motors located on the rear axle, with each motor driving one wheel. The motors deliver a maximum power of 500 kW (738 hp) and 660 Nm peak torque (360 kW and 550 Nm continuous). The Symbioz can sprint from 0-100 km/h in 6 seconds. Power comes from a 72 kWh battery pack. The vehicle architecture can accommodate batteries with a capacity of up to 100 kWh. Renault said that the battery can be charged up to 80% in less than half an hour.
There is 4CONTROL all-wheel steering as well.
As for the design of the vehicle, Renault calls it a ‘French Design’ styling. It is accentuated by the ‘Champagne’ body colour and pearlescent finish.
The Symbioz measures 4.92 metres long, 1.92 metres wide and 1.44 metres high. Wheelbase measures 3.07 metres.
As for the production plans, Renault said that the technology showcased in the Symbioz demo could also appear in the Renault range over the next few months and years. The first model to come out in 2019 will offer Level 2 driving automation with assisted ‘eyes-on’ driving on motorways and in peri-urban areas. Cars with Level 4 “mind-off” driving automation will appear in 2022, pending government regulatory approvals. More about the Symbioz can be read in the press release here.