We’ve written about driverless cars before, but this burgeoning industry is already advancing by leaps and bounds, as evidenced by a new vehicle design by Swiss company Rinspeed. XchangE, which right now is only a concept car, fast-forwards 10-15 years in the future, when driverless cars are no longer a novelty, but the norm. Since people won’t have to drive anymore, they can be passengers, which means that they can stop eating and reading and primping at the wheel and just do all those things like they would on a train, plane, or even in their own living rooms. Of course, that means that the XchangE has to be all kinds of suped-up.
The XchangE platform is the Tesla Model S, but beyond that, not much is recognizable. Given that a steering wheel isn’t be the primary way of controlling the vehicle, the system operates differently too, using buttons, keys, and hand-recognition. You can also move it to the middle of the dash, much like the cockpit of an airplane.
The car uses an LTE network to communicate with other vehicles, and travel-related services, about traffic and road conditions. These kinds of systems are already available and currently generate data that needs to be processed by a human, but Rinspeed looks ahead to a time when the vehicle will be able to interpret this information for itself. The designers also believe that such data can adjust the vehicle’s fundamental speed and braking operations. When all this is in the hands of the onboard operating system, passengers can do whatever they want to pass the time, especially since the car provides extra comfort.
Rinspeed worked with Otto Bock Mobility Solutions to design a new seating configuration, and it goes far beyond the usual reclining options. These seats tilt and turn all kinds of ways, enabling passengers to sleep, read, or even work on a computer.
The company has come up with cool concept cars before. In 2008 they showed off the sQuba, a car-submarine hybrid, and in 2009 they debuted the iChange, which transforms the seating arrangement from that of a sports car into something larger and more spacious via an iPhone. The next year, Rinspeed revealed a joystick-controlled micro electric car.
Rinspeed will display the XchangE at the upcoming 2014 Geneva Motor Show, which takes place March 6-16, 2014.