Renault has unveiled its Next Two car that offers self-driving, smart connectivity and can even valet park itself while you're walking away.
The Renault Next Two is currently a prototype for what the car of 2020 will be able to do. The idea is that drivers can get in and enjoy 4G connectivity to get things done while the car does the driving in traffic up to 30kph/19mph. But the part we really love is the valet parking.
Drivers will be able to use a smartphone to tell the car to pick them up outside their office or home. Then on arrival at the destination they can go in directly and let the car take itself off to find a suitable parking spot. This will apply only to certain smart car parks initially. Knight Rider is finally coming to reality, but with fewer weapons.
The Next Two uses sensors and cameras to see the world around it. These spot both cars and road markings for a safe automated drive while on "protected" routes, as Renault calls the roads that support automated driving. While in this mode the car spots posters, for example for gigs, and displays details on the touchscreen for you to order with a receipt sent straight to your phone. Video conferencing is also possible while auto-driving, which is perfect if you're stuck in traffic late for a meeting.
The concept from Renault describes the connected driving experience: "Juliette calls her in ‘hands free’ mode and sees her friend’s face appear on the screen. During the conversation, the friend shares a photo with her and, with a simple move of her hand, Juliette transfers the picture to the tablet computer belonging to her daughter, sitting alongside her in the car. She hangs up and decides to take advantage of the delegated driving free time to relax and launches the ‘Health & Wellbeing’ app. The seat immediately begins its massage function and the lighting, sound and scent environments within the cabin tune in to this moment of relaxation."
It's all clearly still at the prototype level, but it's great to see a car company actively targeting the future with a time-frame. The road-map for automated driving will be finalised, along with the French government's legislative plans, within the first half of this year.