Let’s face it: the road to fully autonomous cars is a long one, full of regulatory as well as technical challenges. And if Californian automaker Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] gets its way, it will have a car on the market by 2020 with some kind of autopilot or autonomous driving technology fitted.
If a six-year wait seems like too long to wait for a self-driving Tesla however, take a look at the Rinspeed XChangE, a fully-autonomous concept car due to be unveiled at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, built around a Tesla Model S.
A car we’ve already covered here on Transport Evolved, the XChangE is the brainchild of Swiss custom-car company Rinspeed and aims to offer a sneak peak at a ‘not too distant future’ where our cars can take over the strain of driving, leaving us free to relax, socialise, work or perhaps even watch a movie.
Previous press releases have included artist’s renderings of what the concept car would look like, but the latest press release, complete with photographs and videos, show the XChangE to actually be a Tesla Model S, retrofitted to become the concept self-driving car of the future.
Rinspeed’s self-driving concept has been built as part of a collaborative effort between many different companies, including engineering consulting firm 4erc, drive-by-wire specialists paravan technology group, prototype building firm Esoro, TRW safety group, and audio specialists Harman to name a few, and seems to cover every conceivable base.
For a start, the XChangE is fully connected to the world around it via real-time sensors on the outside of the vehicle and a 4G LTE data connection to a central data centre. This allows it to anticipate changes in traffic patterns, route around congestion and cope with almost anything the road can throw at it, including poor weather.
Inside the car, there’s everything to keep the occupants entertained, including a massive 32-inch 4k monitor where the rear window would ordinarily be, swivelling, reclining seats, and even a fine espresso machine.
Having driven the Tesla Model S for three days — you can see our review of it here — we can certainly agree that there’s enough space within its cavernous interior for all of the above — but Rinspeed’s concept does appear to be best when there’s only two people in the car, as the TV only really comes into its own when there’s no rear-seat passengers.
Like other Rinspeed concept cars, the XchangE is an old-fashioned, sky’s the limit concept car. It will never — and we really do mean never — make it to production. At least not while the sky is blue and rain falls down. We’re also pretty sure the concept car doesn’t actually drive itself at this time (if you look closely, you’ll see a towing vehicle in some of the shots in the promotional video above.)
But we’ve got to give Rinspeed some serious kudos for basing its next all-important concept car in a long-line of concept EVs on the most desirable EV on the market today.
Don’t you agree?
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