From the 14th October to the 8th November 2019, throughout the Paris-Saclay urban campus, a panel of some 100 people will use Groupe Renault’s on-demand car service as part of the ‘Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab’ project.
This daytime service, using electric, autonomous and shared Renault ZOE Cab prototypes, will allow panelists to move freely around the Paris-Saclay urban campus, for everyday mobility: go to one of the schools or laboratories on the campus, head to lunch, play sports, etc. The service will run Monday to Friday, from 11am to 6pm, to best coincide with the user’s needs.
Two vehicles will run around the Paris-Saclay urban campus throughout the entirety of the public trials. One ZOE Cab equipped with a large fore-wing door that spans the length of the ZOE’s interior, allowing immediate access to front and rear seats, a section cut-off from the rest of the car’s interior for the safety officer so passengers get a glimpse of the future of autonomous mobility – with neither operator nor driver on board and car seats fitted with individual screens, speakers, and USB port, designed to create a private compartment for each passenger.
The other ZOE Cab will equipped with a larger rear door on the right-hand side for easier car access. The door is located on the right to ensure safely getting in and out of the car (pavement side only) with added ease, a modified interior with the front passenger seat facing backwards so passengers now ride face to face; this is in line with the service’s car-sharing ethos and screens installed inside the car for all passengers to view and use on their trip.
The smartphone app, Marcel Saclay, designed specifically for the ZOE Cab experiment, enables users to hail a car when they need it or book it in advance. Users indicate their position, destination and how many passengers they’re booking for. In fact, the ZOE Cab will stop en route – if need be – to pick up another passenger for either the remainder of the trip or part thereof.
Depending on where the user is on campus when they place their booking, the app will direct them to the nearest meeting point and provide an estimated time of arrival for the vehicle. The service is designed to provide considerable coverage of the campus with 12 pick-up/drop-off points that were chosen for their proximity to the most frequented areas and because they won’t disrupt traffic. Once the passenger is in the car, they can follow their trip via the app and know their ETA at the drop-off point.
The ZOE Cab are equipped with touch screens to assist passengers during their trip. Whether the screens are private or to be shared amongst the passengers depends on the car model. The on-board services include ETA and real-time trip display, notification of additional passengers – as the case may be, temperature settings, touch screen brightness controls and music (depending on which ZOE Cab prototype, music will be played through the car speakers or the speakers built into the head-rest of the passenger who chose the music).
The Zoe Cab equipped with seats enabling each passenger to get its private bubble, comes with a selection of soundscapes based on the technique of auditive neurostimulation: the closest thing to natural hearing, the technology draws on the way human hearing works to pinpoint where a sound comes from. Soundscapes are processed by the brain as if they were in three dimensions, reproducing an accurate rendition of the sounds making them seem as close to real as possible for a totally immersive experience.
Three programmes are available:
- Activation: to wake up sleepy passengers.
- Power Nap: to help passengers nod off.
- Relaxation: to help passengers evacuate built up tension.
Roughly 100 people were chosen to be part of the experiment. The panel had to be representative of the general campus population, hence it is made up of university students, teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and admin staff. At the end of the trial period, participants are asked to share what they think about the overall service, mobile booking app, vehicle comfort levels, and on-board services.