Having an extra eye in the sky is what Renault hopes will encourage safer driving.
A lot of drivers are more interested in paying attention to their smart phone screens or dashboard displays than focusing on the road. Automated cars aren’t quite here yet to offer a truly hands-off driving experience. Renault is offering an alternative system to keep an eye on drivers and note where their vehicle is headed, a personal drone. The KWID concept unveiled at India’s 2014 Delhi Auto Show features what they call a ‘Flying Companion.’
Aimed at offering a safe as well as fun driving experience, the Flying Companion is the first of its kind in the automotive world. Taking off from the rotating rear portion of the KWID CONCEPT’s roof, the Flying Companion can be operated in one of two modes – the automatic mode using a pre-programmed flying sequence and GPS location as well as the manual mode, which enables the companion to be controlled using a tablet inside the vehicle. The Flying Companion can be used for a variety of purposes, including scouting traffic, taking landscape pictures and detecting obstacles on the road ahead.
In some ways, it is a clever idea. But there are issues. Fundamentally it is another distraction from the task of driving. To work it would have to have a guidance system advanced enough not to fly into trees, electrical wires and signs while chasing the vehicle at speed. There’s also some obvious questionable privacy concerns associated with driving around with a remote controlled camera.
The sporty compact-crossover KWID is aimed at India’s young customers. It was designed with input from Renault’s India Design Center and overall has elements adapted from off-roaders like the oversized tires and bash guard inspired front and rear details.
The interior takes inspiration from a bird’s nest and is meant to feel like a cocoon. The seating position is unique with the driver sitting in the center with passengers on either side of a single bench-style seat. A two-tone elastomer material covers a rigid seats and panels creating the layered ‘nest’ look. The heating and air conditioning is routed through the drivers seat and rear passengers can adjust the temperature and airflow via a large perforated panel.
The dash features an asymmetrical instrument layout with fixed controls on the right and a tablet for controlling the Flying Companion on the left.
Renault isn’t specific whether the KWID will see production. The concept is fitted with a 1.2-litre petrol turbocharged engine but Renault designed the KWID to be compatible with their Z.E battery and electric drive system.