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Will grey nomads use drones?
‘Check it out, drone and report back!’

Concerned that there might be a wandering herd of camels up ahead? Want to know well in advance if a giant road train is wending its way towards you? Eager to find out whether the campsite up the road is already full?

Well, your prayers may be about to be answered. Those long, long days of Outback driving could soon be a lot safer – and a lot more interest­ing – with drone technology threatening to collide head­long with the grey nomad lifestyle. That’s right, the drone could be about to become a lot less James Bond and CIA, and a lot more ‘wow, let’s spend the kid’s inheritance’.

At the recent Auto Expo India, Renault got everyone’s attention when it unveiled its Kwid concept off-road vehicle, which comes complete with its own built-in quadcopter drone. I know. I’m serious!

Called the Flying Compan­ion, the drone operates either autonomously following a pre-programmed flight sequence, or in manual mode controlled via a tablet computer inside the car.

The drone itself is stored at the back of the car’s roof and when the driver presses a but­ton, a flap opens and the drone is free to hit the skies. Live video and other information is displayed on a dashboard- mounted tablet as it flies, and the drone can automatically return to the car at the press of a button.

The drone’s live video feed al­lows the driver or passenger to see exactly what is happening on the road ahead … or behind for that matter.

“The Flying Companion can be used for a variety of pur­poses, including scouting traf­fic, taking landscape pictures and detecting obstacles on the road ahead,” said Renault, which hopes the 3.6-metre long Kwid will be production-ready within two years.

The two-seater concept vehicle has an unusual and exciting interior, which naturally in­cludes a tablet for a dashboard display. The vehicle is powered by a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine linked to a dual-clutch transmission, and has been designed to have the capabil­ity to take an electric engine as well.

There is no word yet on how much the Kwid will cost and if, and when, the technology will be installed in big 4WDs or motorhomes.

Wow! How much more fun can taking the Big Lap be? Now we get to take the fish­ing rod, the metal detector, the bike, the boat … and the drone! I love it!


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