IMAGINE THE scene – you’re on the morning commute, stuck in back-to-back traffic on the motorway, all you want is a coffee and to finish your 10am presentation. No chance from the driver’s seat. The madcap engineers at Rinspeed (a Swiss company that specialises in “out there” vehicles) may have the answer.
They have created a self-driving Tesla Model S with an interior that resembles a futuristic living room packed with gadgets that allow passengers to get on with their work, surf their social media accounts or simply kick back and watch a movie.
Called the XchangE, it will debut at the Geneva motor show next month. Features designed to take advantage of self-driving technology include a coffee machine and manoeuvrable seats that can swivel, slide and recline as much as desired, a dash-mounted Windows 8 tablet with keyboard, 32” monitor (ideal for video conference calls or just epic Top Gear marathons), a steering wheel that can slide out of the way of the swivelled seats and, er, a Carl F Bucherer Patravi TravelTec fancy Swiss timepiece on the dashboard.
While driverless cars are speeding into the near future, the question remains – if cars are driving themselves where does that leave those in the driver’s seat? Frank M. Rinderknecht, Rinspeed’s CEO believes his company’s creation is ultimately serving the needs of drivers who feel their time could be better spent than pumping a clutch and changing gear. “After all, travelling in a driverless car will no longer require me to stare at the road,” he says. “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”. Coffee and TV it is, then.
The unusual concept car is nothing new for the outlandish Swiss company. The last job by Rinspeed saw it transform a Lotus Elise into a submarine, a realisation of the Esprit in “The Spy Who Loved Me”. Named the sQuba, the car was fitted with an electric motor to run on the road then, at a touch of a button it metamorphosed into a submarine with propellers and a pump.
You’re unlikely to see the XchangE on the road, unfortunately, as it’s a one-off concept, but it’s sure to draw the crowds for Rinspeed once again at the Geneva motor show.