Rinspeed designs out technological obsolescence with latest self-driving concept

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On its 40th visit to the Geneva International Motor Show (to be held on 8-18 March 2018), Rinspeed will showcase Snap, a self-driving concept car designed to weather the rapid changes expected in hardware and software.

The hardware and software, including mechanical and IT components, which Rinspeed believes are bound to become outdated quickly, are part of the high-wear chassis (‘skateboard’), which is separate from the passenger safety cell (‘pod’). These two components ‘snap’ together. When separate, the pod can even be used for stationary applications, for example as a shop or a camping pod. The skateboard is recycled after a few years of intensive use, while the pod is able to remain in service for much longer before being sent for recycling.

The car could be fitted with an optional personal assistant – an autonomous, intelligent robot to handle tasks including errands and purchases.

In keeping with tradition, Rinspeed’s 24th concept car was designed at 4erC, with technical execution at Esoro. An extensive study of the Snap ecosystem, conducted by EY, shows its possibilities.

The electric vehicle is full of technical equipment contributed by many companies. The steering axles and integrated electric powertrain come from ZF. Rinspeed says these would enable Snap to turn practically on a dime and produce no emissions in urban traffic. The Snap runs on weight-optimized 7×18 Borbet alloy wheels shod with 225/35-18 size tires. All bonds are realized with adhesives from Sika Automotive.

The city runabout is brimming with sensors. For example, Gentex contributes an Iris scanner for occupant detection and dimmable front and rear glass elements. Lidar sensors from Ibeo ensure that obstacles on the road are detected.

Harman’s Autonomous Drive Platform is part of the skateboard. It uses the NXP BlueBox, a sensor fusion solution. In turn, the Smart Antenna, jointly developed by NXP and Harman, is designed to ensure safe communication with the world, as well as a high-speed connection to the Harman Ignite Cloud Platform.

With 5G, Car2X, radio tuner, BT, and wi-fi, the entire spectrum of wireless networking possibilities is covered. Sprint, a US telecommunications company, is committed to ensuring stable networks. NXP provides pod recognition and its customized Smart Access solution. Business software company SAP contributes by enabling the digitized ecosystem through technologies and software solutions in the areas of smart cities, connected health, connected mobility and transportation. TomTom provides HD Maps for autonomous driving and navigation technologies that enable predictive driving. Finally, Valens’s HDBaseT Automotive connectivity technology connection is responsible for the fast and secure transmission of even UHD multimedia signals between the numerous vehicle components.

A marketplace net from MHP allows custom use of the wide variety of pods and skateboards with a wide range of service providers. The transmission of data and information was independently tested and certified by Dekra. Harting supplies a quick-charging cable with high-voltage technology.

Harman developed the ‘True Level 5’ HMI. The goal of the development was maximum individualization paired with optimal protection of personal data. To this end, there is a three-level user authentication process, depending on the desired personalization. A token unlocks the vehicle and customizes the displays. Personal cloud content is available after successful facial recognition. The voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant knows the preferences and habits of each passenger. A third level of biometric identification is required if passenger health data is to be recorded and analysed.

Each passenger has three displays at their disposal. Personal settings are selected with the Personal Control Panel, which features an interactive control dial. Personal content and messages are shown on the touch-controlled Hover Tabs, which are brought into position by swivelling arms. Two large centrally placed screens provide route information and movies. Audio is provided by a Lexicon surround sound system with Ambisonics Escape signal processing.

Snap uses six projectors to communicate visually with the outside world. Two use the windscreen and the rear glass to send full-colour messages to other road users. Four laser projections on the side windows are used for communication with boarding passengers. The necessary functional interlayers for all-round glazing come from Sekisui.

Digital license plates and lighting (including interior LEDs that emit UV light to render bacteria harmless) are supplied by Osram Opto Semiconductors. The front and rear panels, as well as lighting elements in the rocker panels, are multifunctional and can display multimedia content – they come from Techniplas. The safe swapping of the pods is ensured by lightweight design supports from Georg Fischer.

Rinspeed also called upon the expertise of textile developers at Strähle+Hess, who work with Stahl. The interior also features leather from Bader; storage systems from Dr Schneider Unternehmensgruppe; partially translucent materials from Benecke-Hornschuch Surface Group; seat and trim upholstery accents from Kolon; and urban farming containers from Kostal.

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About Author


As editor of four magazines at UKi Media & Events James brings over a decade of writing about, and obsessing over, technology and cars to Automotive Interiors World, Stadia, Winter Sports Technology International and Auditoria. Responsible for commissioning, writing and editing each issue he’s covered the best (and worst) from around the industry on a continual search to feature the latest innovation or talking point on the next cover.

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