Mar. 7 - Swiss concept car firm Rinspeed is showing off its latest prototype vehicle, a driverless car it says represents the future of transportation. The Rinspeed XchangE is a luxury car that leaves the job of driving to an onboard computer while passengers relax and enjoy the ride. Jim Drury reports.
The driverless Rinspeed XchangE has been a highlight of the Geneva Car Show, although it's less a conventional car than an office or living room on wheels. Rinspeed CEO Frank Rinderknecht says the vehicle represents the future of transportation. SOUNDBITE (English) RINSPEED FOUNDER AND CEO, FRANK M. RINDERKNECHT, SAYING: "Rinspeed XchangE is about autonomous driving, about moving by yourself, with an autopilot in your car. Once the car is doing that, our reasoning is that I do not want to watch my steering wheel turn left and right, I'd like to work, I'd like to relax, I'd like to be entertained, I'd like to do anything else but staring outside." Offering room for four occupants, the XchangE hints at a future in which car-hosted business meetings become the norm. Computers take care of the driving and navigation, and when it's time to relax, there are plenty of options. SOUNDBITE (English) RINSPEED FOUNDER AND CEO FRANK M. RINDERKNECHT SAYING: "If I am not driving myself, I am of course always, as an autonomous car connected to the Internet, to get the data, get the data from other cars, but I can download movies, I can work, I send my data up in the cloud, and I am always connected. But if I decide to drive myself, of course, I always can drive myself as well." And, says Rinderknecht, the driver can do it in style. Apart from all the mod cons, interior ambient lighting can be adjusted according to taste thanks to 380 individually controlled LED lights. Rinderknecht says he expects driverless cars to be on the roads by 2020, by which time he thinks consumers will be convinced of their safety and appropriate new laws and insurance regulations will have been introduced. Based on the response in Geneva, he also believes Rinspeed will be leading the charge to that driverless future.