New cool car carries reconnaissance drone

JESUS DIAZ AND DAVID MCCOWEN
Last updated 08:55 10/02/2014

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This is the Renault KWID, a car that carries a quadcopter drone for terrain reconnaissance tucked inside a little hangar on its rooftop.

It may seem like a silly James Bond invention, but it actually makes a lot of sense in certain situations.

The three-seat prototype – presented in New Delhi Motor Show, in India – can deploy the smart drone at the touch of a button. Called Flying Companion, it has an onboard GPS and a camera for terrain, traffic, and obstacle reconnaissance. It has two modes: automatic and manual.

In automatic mode the drone follows a path using GPS waypoints, as designated by the driver — like an aeroplane autopilot. The manual mode allows the driver or the co-pilot to control the quadcopter using a built-in tablet panel.

It could be really convenient, especially when going off-road, when you don't really know what lies ahead of you. On a road or in the city it doesn’t make sense — imagine every car with a companion drone going around (it would be interesting to have public drones along roads and streets, broadcasting images to every car that connects to them, however.)

But for off-road driving this could be really cool and useful. The only problem: While the KWID looks like an all-terrain, full drive car, it is not. But then again, it’s not a real car, so who cares. The concept is cool anyway.

Serge Mouangue, brand manager and innovative co-operative laboratory manager for Renault, says the car was specifically designed for emerging new car markets.

"Customers in new markets are much younger. Their expectations are different and customers are basically gamers. They tend to take a closer interest in technology and want to enjoy themselves."

The French brand says the car comes with a touch screen dashboard and radio-controlled quadricopter that "answers the young and modern Indian need to stay connected, with a strong attempt for technology".

Mounangue says the flying companion "makes driving both safe and fun".

"This is the very first time in the long automotive history we can drive on earth with an eye in the sky," he says.

"It's an amazing feature."

Designers from France, Brazil, Russia and India collaborated on the KWID, which has huge tyres pushed out to each corner to give the impression of a bouncing vehicle.

Its bird's nest-inspired interior sees occupants seated on elastic bandages stretched across rigid frames.

The Renault's ergonomics pay tribute to the legendary McLaren F1, with its driver seated front and centre and front seat passengers slightly further back to either side.

Power comes from a 1.2-litre four-cylinder motor shared with the Clio hatchback.

-Gizmodo.com.au/Fairfax News Australia

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