Renault has revealed the EZ-PRO, an autonomous delivery concept featuring shared customisable ‘robo-pods’.
The design study is being proposed as a futuristic solution specifically for “last-mile” delivery services, which Renault believes represents one of the biggest opportunities for disruption in professional delivery services, particularly as E-commerce continues to explode.
The French carmaker is currently said to be the European market leader in electric light commercial vehicles (LCVs).
“Renault EZ-PRO shows our vision of last-mile delivery integrated with the ecosystem of smart cities of tomorrow and the needs of professionals. This concept is a solution that would unlock countless opportunities for our various partners, such as we’re showing today with DPD Group, Lomi Coffee, Piper-Heidsieck and Patrick Roger,” claims Ashwani Gupta, senior vice president of Renault’s LCV division.
The concept consists of an autonomous ‘leader’ pod and driverless robo-pods. Renault believes that the management of the last mile will not be completely automated, and so the leader pod hosts a human ‘concierge’ who supervises the delivery of goods and services and its fleet.
Released from the constraints of driving, the concierge is therefore able to focus on tasks such as supervising the itinerary planning and driverless robo-pods, or ensuring efficient and customised service, such as in-person, premium delivery of groceries or fragile objects.
To make life easier for the concierge, the leader pod features front access, a joystick controller and an easy-to-manoeuvre four-wheel steering feature.
The fleet of driverless robo-pods, meanwhile, either follow each other by platooning or can move independently, and can be customised to meet a variety of different business needs.
For example, as a shared solution, a convoy of pods leaving from the same hub and managed by the same logistics operator can carry different types of goods and merchandise, with each pod having its own paymaster, theme, clientele and delivery place. They are however operated by the same electric and autonomous platform.
Customers, on the other hand, can not only select a convenient delivery time and location of their choice but can also choose between receiving their parcel by the concierge or accessing self-service lockers in the driverless robo-pods. These lockers, accessible 24/7, can be opened by the recipient via a mobile phone application.
The shipping solution for consumers also features real-time tracking options via mobile with alert services for a smoother delivery experience.
“With EZ-PRO, we continue our exploratory work around urban shared mobility of the future. Focused on delivery solutions, this autonomous, connected and electric concept represents the ideal tool, being both a creator of opportunity for professionals and a facilitator of services for all its users, direct or indirect,” says Renault design boss, Laurens van den Acker.
The new EZ-PRO is part of a series of Renault concept vehicles that focus on future urban mobility services, and follows on from the EZ-GO taxi concept that was unveiled earlier in the year.