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Renault EZ-PRO concept van previews future delivery tech

Renault’s urban delivery design study features an autonomous lead vehicle that's followed by robotic 'pods'

This is the Renault EZ-PRO Concept, a vision of urban delivery systems that could grace city streets in the future. It features a series of electric, autonomous pods which can be customised to deliver a wide range of goods and services in built-up areas. 

The study, which was revealed at the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover, Germany, is designed to replace large vans and lorries in urban environments where zero emissions are desirable. However, while the concept looks at autonomous urban delivery, Renault's study still features human interaction in the form of a 'concierge', rather than a driver.

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EZ-PRO consists of a ‘leader pod’, which is followed by fully automated ‘robo pods’ that can follow the leader, forming a kind of urban road train - although the robo pods aren't physically connected to the lead vehicle. The lead vehicle has seating for the human ‘concierge’, and it also features a joystick to allow manual control of the vehicle if necessary.

However, the leader pod is designed to operate autonomously, so that the concierge can focus on different tasks, such as route planning and personalised customer service, for example. 

The EZ-PRO is a concept that focuses on ‘last-mile’ deliveries – a growing sector of the market which makes up approximately 30 per cent of traffic in cities – with a view to replacing large diesel vans and lorries with smarter alternatives that produce zero emissions.

Unlike the Mercedes Urbanetic concept, which features interchangeable pods to cater for courier or passenger carrying requirements, the EZ-PRO is dedicated to business deliveries. As part of this, the concierge can program pods within the train to break away and travel independently to their final destination, before returning to the lead vehicle when delivery is complete.

Renault has tried to make the EZ-PRO look more appealing than simply being a box on wheels. The pods feature a smooth look that's designed to reduce the visual impact of the pods on their environment, while vertical opening doors boost access. The faired-in wheels feature four-wheel steering for extra manoeuvrability and the rear-drive electric motor makes zero emissions.

While this design study looks towards urban delivery systems in the year 2030, the autonomous tech systems are likely to make production in the nearer future - the all electric Renault Master Z.E. is already designed as a zero-emissions last-mile delivery vehicle, and it has similar telematics technology on board.

Take a look at Renault's last concept, the EX-GO, right here...

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Senior test editor

Dean has been part of the Auto Express team for more than 20 years, and has worked across nearly all departments, starting on magazine production, then moving to road tests and reviews. He's our resident van expert, but covers everything from scooters and motorbikes to supercars and consumer products.

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