Back in 2012, we did a write up on Driverless cars. It was a project that was/isspearheaded by Google and involved a test fleet of at least eight vehicles, consisting of six Toyota Prius, an Audi TT, and a Lexus RX450h. Fast forward to 2014, and the Geneva Motor Show. Swiss automaker Rinspeed has put forward their concept of an autonomous vehicle except this one takes it to the next level… in a Tesla S.
Rinspeed puts man at the center of the autonomous car. At the 2014 Geneva Motor Show Rinspeed presented the “XchangE” study to the public in a world premiere. It demonstrates how cars will ‘move’ us just a few short years from now, in both senses of the word. Frank M. Rinderknecht describes the status quo like this: “So far hardly anyone has taken this to its logical conclusion from the perspective of the driver. 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.” And then he poses the key question: How will the interior of a vehicle have to be designed to let the now largely unburdened driver make optimal use of the gain in time?
The Swiss company provides the answer with an all-electric touring sedan by the name of “XchangE”. In best Helvetic tradition it was engineered by 4erC and built at Esoro. The vehicle features all-new seats reminiscent of the relaxing business-class seats of major airlines. The basic idea behind the seats that offer a host of adjustment, tilting and swiveling options comes from Otto Bock Mobility Solutions,
arguably the most renowned manufacturer of medical prosthetics worldwide. This results in more than twenty possible seating arrangements – a world record. The futuristic TRW steering wheel with hands-on recognition, drive-mode-manager display in the rim and transparent multifunction keys with ambiance lighting can simply be “parked” in the middle of the instrument panel together with the innovative lightweight steering column with bionic design from Georg Fischer Automotive. This feat is made possible by the multi-redundant “steer-by-wire” technology developed by Swabian Company Paravan, similar to what can be found on modern jet aircraft. It is therefore no wonder that the smart automotive visionary with a wink negates the famous advertising slogan that has become a popular phrase: “Not even flying is better from now on!”
Passengers will be able to assume virtually any seating or resting position when traveling in a fully autonomous vehicle in the future, which will require a completely new operating and display concept. It is supplied by infotainment specialist Harman. The new concept uses the manufacturer’s all-new next-generation scalable infotainment platform, which is based on HTML5 and provides comprehensive protection against hacker attacks. In the “XchangE” it offers numerous functions for navigation, entertainment, assistance and services that are displayed on a total of four screens. A 1.2-meter-wide display strip in the steering-wheel support provides important information in wide-screen format. A 32-inch 4K monitor in the rear transforms the “XchangE” into a highly comfortable on-demand UHD movie theatre on wheels. It is controlled with simple gestures.
Of course the “XchangE” is also fully networked with the outside world. The in-car consolidation of real-time sensor data that is crucial for “Car2X” communications is handled by the infotainment system, which communicates with the Cloud via an integrated LTE module. Deutsche Telekom and its fast LTE network provide the secure data transmission. All incoming vehicle data – from the Harman infotainment system and other vehicle systems – are compiled and analyzed on a standardized “Business-to-Car” platform of Deutsche Telekom. The intelligent links to numerous other online data sources thus create travel-specific Cloud services such as warning messages or recommendations on route and driving profiles, which are available to all road users in real time. The more vehicles and service providers are networked via the manufacturer-independent “Business-to-Car” platform, the more everyone traveling by car benefits from added safety and convenience.
An intelligent access control system that uses RFID technology to identify the authorized driver or drivers switches on the essential functions of the “XchangE”. It comes from the parts portfolio of forklift manufacturer Linde Material Handling. As on the company’s forklifts and other materials handling equipment, the technical signals from the sensors and the vehicle control system are compiled by the “connect:” data-logging unit and transmitted continuously to the Cloud via the T network. The software of the “connect:” unit makes it possible to analyze all operating data and generate reports, for example for fleet operators.