As automakers are putting the finishing touches on autonomous vehicle technology, the Swiss idea factory Rinspeed created a concept placing the occupants at the center of the driverless car.
“So far hardly anyone has taken this to its logical conclusion from the perspective of the driver,” said Rinspeed boss Frank M. Rinderknecht. “After all, traveling in a driverless car will no longer require me to stare at the road, but will let me spend my time in a more meaningful way”.
The key question according to Rinspeed is: How does the interior of a vehicle have to be designed to let the now largely unburdened driver make optimal use of time?
The Swiss company chose to provide answers through a fully electric touring sedan concept going by the name of “XchangE” that will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
So far only a few highlights have been revealed; the vehicle features all-new seats reminiscent of the relaxing business-class seats of major airlines – with similarly elaborate functionality. And it uses a completely new operating and display concept with a host of entertainment, safety and service functions. Rinspeed said this makes it possible to work or relax in particular comfort while riding in the driverless car. All passengers can enjoy a wide variety of media or access in-depth information. And to make sure the steering wheel is not a hindrance while doing so, it can simply be “parked” in the middle of the dashboard, courtesy of “steer-by-wire” technology that can also be found on modern jet aircraft.
Rinspeed said you can read, listen to music, surf the web, play games, watch movies in brilliant picture and sound quality or hold a meeting at 70 mph and work on your files. The creators are certain that autonomous driving will actually make individual travel even more attractive compared to traveling by train, plane or long-distance coach.
As Rinderknecht puts it, “I am given free time that I can use for myself anyway I please, while the sensor systems and the computer chauffeur me safely and reliably to my destination”.
The Rinspeed “XchangE” is the twentieth proprietary concept vehicle of the Swiss “Think Tank” and “Mobility Lab”.