It’s a problem that plagues many industries: products made from components with varying life cycles can mean premature obsolescence to the system as a whole. A Swiss car manufacturer has decided to tackle the problem head-on with an autonomous concept car that will be making an appearance at CES 2018, which runs Jan. 9-12 in Las Vegas.
Founded by Frank Rinderknecht in 1977, Rinspeed focuses on concept cars rather than production; the company bills itself as a “creative think tank for the automotive industry.” Its newest model, the Snap, solves the lifecycle challenge by separating the car into two snap-together parts: a durable passenger safety cell, or “pod,” sits atop a high-wear chassis, or “skateboard.” After a few years, the skateboard’s fast-aging mechanical and IT components can be recycled while the pod can stay in service for much longer – perhaps finding use as a “variable shopping pod” or a “spacious camping pod” or (I swear, I didn’t make this part up) a “cozy cuddling pod.”
The Snap, Rinspeed’s twenty-fourth concept car, is also a quick-charge electric vehicle. It boasts two steering axles that allow it to “turn practically on a dime,” and navigation technologies to enable predictive driving. And, optionally, production models would come with an autonomous, intelligent robot to serve as an in-car personal assistant. It could, for instance, help with running errands, carrying purchases – or even suggesting an appropriate restaurant for each passenger, based on what it knows about each person’s preference.
Other tech components built into the Snap include occupant-detection sensors, obstacle-detection sensors and a smart antenna to provide high-speed cloud connection. Projectors are used for communication with the outside world – such as a full-color message on the windshield that reads “Right of way granted.”
Top speed is around 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph); electric range is 100 kilometers (62 miles). For full details on the Snap, click here.