When the autonomous driving goes mainstream it will fundamentally change the way people interact with their cars and each other.
While research centers fine-tune the mechanics and technology needed to put autonomous cars in the showroom, companies such as the Swiss idea factory, Rinspeed, are already giving concrete thought to how automated private transport will transform the car and the man-machine system. In the new “Budii” concept car from Swiss automotive visionary Frank M. Rinderknecht, the machine now literally reaches out to man: if the occupants of the autonomous electric vehicle want to have some fun at the wheel on a twisty country road, a robotic arm will hand the steering wheel to the driver or front passenger, thereby transferring command. The sensitive 7-axis unit is more than merely a steering column. For example, during automated driving in the daily commute it can be stored out of the way, or it can serve as a table. This is made possible by multi-redundant “steer-by-wire” technology.
“The autonomous car will require more than solving technical problems and legal issues in the next two decades. We not only have to redefine the interaction of man and machine, but must also raise questions about responsibility, tolerances and expectations,” says Rinderknecht. He believes autonomous driving will undoubtedly offer the opportunity to make traffic more people-friendly and reduce the number of traffic accidents. “But even the best technology will not be perfect,” he adds. Artificial intelligence built into the vehicles will enable them to keep learning every day, “and as a result will get better and better at mastering the complex challenges of modern-day private transport.”
Rinspeed’s Budii concept trans-urban SUV introduced at the 2015 Geneva Motor show will take information from its surroundings, its own “experiences” and those of other vehicles along its route, into consideration. The long-term result will be a cognitive and intuitive autopilot, according to the company.
Budii’s entirely new operating and display system features a host of innovative entertainment, safety and service functions, and is based on the next-generation scalable platform from HARMAN. The technologies of Rinspeed’s long-time main partner integrate all features of the RoboCar and quasi bring “Budii” to life. The system independently identifies the habits and preferences of the driver, and consequently reduces the necessary operating steps to a minimum. In this way, the car turns into a learning and proactive companion.
Rinspeed is also using Budii to prove that electric cars can be “sexy”. It has a bright anthracite paint finish with sparkler effect, silver-colored and midnight-blue “skai” interior surfaces, as well as cognac-colored textile with signal-orange highlights in edging to “create a feel-good lounge atmosphere,” according to the company.