The future of mobility is electric, connected and autonomous: these are just a few of the applications that are driving Groupe Renault to be more open to the outside world, to seek out the talents and partners we need, and to adopt new working methods and ways of thinking.
Innovation is everyone’s business. The vehicle of the future will come out of a process that combines in-house creativity, outside collaborations and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi synergies. A new approach designed to keep pace with the rise of new technology, new forms of mobility and new customer uses.
Groupe Renault is always developing more outside collaborations to co-innovate with partners and deliver new services and new mobility solutions to customers. Today, this open innovation also includes start-ups, which are often at the cutting edge when it comes to new ways of developing and boosting innovation.
In 2011 Groupe Renault established a foothold in Silicon Valley, where our teams can draw on a diverse ecosystem (made up of universities, start-ups and major companies), take a page out of their book and get inspired by their creativity.
This center for global innovation is tasked with making use of existing opportunities and skills in the region, with a focus on three areas: electric vehicles and their ecosystems, in-vehicle well-being and new services.
Having gained a foothold in Silicon Valley, Groupe Renault went on to create two new Open Innovation Labs.
The first is in Israel, ranked as one of the top five countries with the most conducive ecosystems for start-ups and home to academic research institutions. This site, opened in 2016, aims to promote electric vehicles and foster creativity with a focus on the mobility of the future.
The second of these Open Innovation Labs is “Le Square”, located in Paris. This is where Renault teams work with start-ups and outside partners to identify new working methods and the future of mobility.
After years spent focusing solely on internal-combustion vehicles, the automotive industry is now diversifying. This diversity means that auto manufacturers can no longer expect to possess all the skills and expertise they need to design and develop the vehicles of the future, given that the skills involved are cutting-edge and constantly evolving.
In the spring of 2020, a Renault and Renault Sport Racing team joined the Nantes entrepreneurs' collective "Makers for Life". The objective is to design a low-cost, industrializable emergency artificial respirator for use in hospital intensive care units to meet the increased demand for Covid-19.
The initiative is notably led by the CEA (French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission) and supported by the General Directorate of Armament and the Defence Innovation Directorate of the French Ministry of Armed Forces.
Inspired by the many similarities between a respirator and a motor (a respirator supplies compressed air at a regulated flow rate and pressure), the Group's engineers designed several parts for the project's needs, in particular the "blower", an engine component that supplies the respirator with compressed air. They also developed a virtual digital lung model that allows the physical and software design of the respirator to evolve rapidly by simulating different clinical cases.
The exceptional network of skills among the Group's employees - mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering, product-process design, manufacturing and logistics, Renault medical experts, quality, purchasing, industrial property and management control in particular - was a determining factor in optimizing the design of the respirator and making it compatible with large-scale industrialization. Some fifteen artificial respirator prototypes were manufactured at the Prototype Production Center (CRP) at the Technocentre in Guyancourt.
The developments of the MAKAIR RE20 ventilator specific to Renault (including the 11 patents registered), have been made available in open source under a free licence, via the Github open-source platform, to enable players in crisis situations to manufacture this model of artificial respirator at low cost.
The Covid-19 pandemic revealed a shortage of syringe pumps capable of administering an average of four continuous medications per patient.
To help overcome this shortage in intensive care units, a team from the engineering and design departments at the Guyancourt, Aubevoye and Nice sites, in collaboration with the hospitals of Bichat-Claude Bernard, La Pitié-Salpêtrière and AP-HP, produced a prototype electric syringe pump, followed by mass production studies, validation and approval of the product by the medical authorities. A feat achieved in record time and praised by the AP-HP's General Agency for Health Equipment and Products (AGEPS).
All the plans and software were made available free of charge to the scientific community via the open-source platform Github.