Rinspeed will grace the Geneva motor show and celebrate 40 years of attendance with its latest concept vehicle, the Snap, which debuted first at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. As the name implies, the self-driving concept vehicle isn't just a vehicle, but a "mobility ecosystem" that is pieced together.
Like Legos, the Snap features a "skateboard," which houses the mechanicals and technology components, and a "pod," where the riders sit while the Snap mosies around. Rinspeed's premise is to create an even more efficient world where the "skateboard" is retired long before the "pod."
The idea is cemented in the fact that technology progresses quickly. Snap operators could retire the mechanical and technology bits when the latest technology arrives, while the ride pod would remain functional for years to come. The firm said this would help create a much more efficient and environmentally friendly solution to manufacturing self-driving cars since the whole idea around Snap would conserve natural resources. The firm even likened the solution to out-of-date software: old technology can become unsafe—Snap fixes this dilemma.
Further embracing the circular economy, Rinspeed also imagines the pod portion of the Snap concept could be useful while stationary. It could double as a shopping stall, a camper, or simply a place for people to sit and relax.
The Snap is filled with future technology from dozens of companies. New Lidar sensors, TomTom maps, and a Harman-developed Level 5 self-driving system make autonomy possible. While the Snap moves about, riders are treated to 5G network capability, a suite of personalized technology, and cloud-based information sharing. Rinspeed includes ultraviolet lights to kill bacteria onboard and promote a healthy environment, and envisions and optional autonomous, intelligent robotic personal assistant to carry packages, run errands, and perform other duties.
We don't know if Rinspeed's future of swappable parts will come true, but it does fall in line with other predictions. Notably, former auto industry executive Bob Lutz envisioned a future in which automakers would simply build the hardware, while other companies would supply the "software" for fleets of self-driving vehicles.
The Snap will make its debut at the Geneva motor show next week. For more news from Geneva, see our dedicated hub.