Autonomous vehicles are coming, but what will they look like? Perhaps the vehicle of the future, based on the most futuristic vehicle on the road, the Tesla Model S, might look something like the Rinspeed XchangE?
It’s a rare sight to see an auto show concept rolling on the streets, but Rinspeed seems to be doing just that. They’ve taken a Tesla Model S, a pure electric vehicle, and converted it into a beautiful autonomous drive creation. The original concept appeared a couple months ago, but now it seems we have a full-featured rolling concept, and it’s, at least in the eye of the beholder, beautiful…
Of course, from the outside, the Rinspeed XchangE looks almost exactly like the Tesla Model S, with the addition of some snazzy iridescent film on the panoramic roof, as well as a couple of accents in various places on the car. But outside looks can be deceiving. For example, we all know the Tesla Model S is an electric vehicle, totally non-autonomous drive, and yet the video shows our passengers lounging in the reversed captain’s chair, with nary a concern for the steering wheel. Actually, we do see the driver taking the wheel a couple times in the video, but there seems to be a choice of which driver feels like driving, with one interesting shot of the steering wheel shuttling from one side to the other.
I’m sure today’s Tesla Model S doesn’t do that, but tomorrow’s autonomous drive version might, given that Tesla Model S’ electronic power steering system, as well as control pedals and transmission control, are entirely fly-by-wire. For an autonomous vehicle makeover, essentially a major software and sensor package, Tesla Model S’ fly-by-wire controls are actually far easier to work with. Everything else, from the color scheme to the seating arrangements, is purely cosmetic, or is it?
Perhaps the Rinspeed XchangE autonomous vehicle concept is a vision of the future. Sleek lines, powerful and clean electric vehicle powertrain, and numerous safety systems, provided by the futuristic Tesla Model S, meld perfectly into the Rinspeed modifications. Judging from the video, and gathering what we hope to be a viable autonomous vehicle future, can we expect that autonomous vehicles will be a seamless part of our lives? Will we be able to simple voice our destination and worry not until our arrival is announced? Future, you have arrived.
Image © Rinspeed AG