From urban traffic to track races, up to competitions for model cars: self-driving cars never cease to amaze and just what it is staged at the 2022 edition of the VivaTech Exhibition in Paris is something unprecedented: a Big prize – baptized – “DIY Robocars France” – reserved for autonomous mini-vehicles.
All with different types of evidence – from parking lots to gymnastics, passing through races – set up to demonstrate the possibilities of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Certainly the show on the track was certainly not lacking and the public, obviously made up of technology enthusiasts, was that of the great occasions. Indeed, according to the organizers of VivaTech, the “DIY Robocars France” race of autonomous mini-cars was the most popular event of the whole show.
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Organized by Renault Digital, this race, born in the United States, consists of put together a dozen teams composed of two to four people with the aim of traveling in autonomous mode as quickly as possible with 1/10 scale car a 69 meter long circuit with two straights and twelve curves. Different types of tests follow one another: timed sprint for two laps and battle between two competitors, in chase style.
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“Among the competitors – explained Olivier Bourrassé, Deputy Head of Technology at Renault Digital and organizer of the competition – there are employees, software programming experts, engineering students, people with very different backgrounds. This was the wealth of Robocars, the fact of having a different look at the solutions to be proposed to achieve a common goal: make the vehicle completely autonomous “.
The machines in question are elaborations of simple remote controlled cars that thanks to sensors and cameras collect data to develop the best algorithms, make use of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to allow vehicles to become more and more autonomous. In practice they know the circuit “by heart” and therefore they are able to cover it as fast as possible without cutting the curves or dropping the cones that delimit the track.
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“If the goal was the same, however – explain the Renault technicians – all the teams worked following different paths, depending on the challenge they had set for the race. Both from a material point of view, with different sensors and cameras, and from a technical point of view. For example, the Alpine – Autopylot, developed by Alexandre, Mickaël, Maxime E. and Maxime G. four first-year students from EPITA, was fitted with larger tires – which forced the team to remove the bodywork – for better grip on the track and greater precision in cornering ”.
And to let the public touch the potential of these technologies, in a test called “Catch and Rob” an autonomous vehicle was compared with a car driven live by a member of the public equipped with a remote control and a virtual reality helmet for an immersive vision.
“Such a context for technology enthusiasts is a” magnet “- they explain to the French company – that attracts talents and projecting students into the professional world thanks to this race is a real boon for the Renault Group”.
As stated by Luca de Meo, CEO of the Renault Group, present on the Renault Digital DIY Robocars France stand, forging ties with schools is of fundamental importance to be able to transform. “We have a very important internal challenge of skills retraining, but we also need to add new life blood from schools and universities. We need initiatives, in France and elsewhere, that show that the culture change at Renault goes hand in hand with the integration of young people. This is a very important issue for me ”.
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