Renault debuted its latest self-driving car on Tuesday. Based on the all-electric Zoe, it is named "Callie," and it is capable of matching the accident avoidance prowess of professional drivers. The self-driving Renault challenged pro drivers in sudden obstacle avoidance tests, and "Callie" performed just as well every single time.
The French brand says the technology is the first of its kind and can handle "challenging driving scenarios." Basically, the car is capable of swerving to avoid obstacles in the road, just as a human would have to when a situation unfolds. In the tests, the self-driving car handles cones and other road obstacles at parity with pro drivers.
Renault based "Callie" on the work done by Stanford University's Dynamic Design Lab, which is headed by former Chief Innovation Officer for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Professor Chris Gerdes. Renault's Open Innovation Lab in Silicon Valley has been collaborating with Stanford.
The brand says the obstacle avoidance technology is an important step toward true automation. Renault makes no mention of the AI that would determine the worst-case scenario accident avoidance situation. For instance, an autonomous car might have to decide if it's going to hit an oncoming car or a pedestrian.
The self-driving car scale rates all semi-self-driving systems on sale today at Level 2, and the scale peaks at Level 5. Today's systems, and upcoming Level 3 systems, still require human attention at nearly every step. Most systems require the driver to place his or her hands back on the steering wheel to keep the system engaged, though Cadillac's Super Cruise utilizes eye-tracking cameras to provide a hands-free driving experience.
Back at Renault, the brand says the technology displayed on Tuesday will be part of 15 models launching by 2022 with varying degrees of self-driving capability.