The annual Geneva Auto Show typically features a large number of specialty automakers you just won’t see anywhere else. One of the most unique is Rinspeed, a company who likes to be known as a ‘creative think tank for the automotive industry.’ The company started from humble beginnings back in the late ’70s importing sunroofs and converting cars for handicapped drivers. Since then, they have produced a string of concept cars which seemingly ignore any rational approach to design and engineering yet somehow show that it is ok to embrace crazy.
For 2014, Rinspeed got a stock Tesla Model S sedan and undertook the task of creating their vision of what a future autonomous car would be like. The result is a concept sedan called the “XchangE” and much of the work centered around redefining how occupants would use the interior. Rinspeed founder Frank M. Rinderknecht believes autonomous driving will become a reality and saw an opportunity to redefine how people spend time in cars:
So far hardly anyone has taken this to its logical conclusion from the perspective of the driver. After all, traveling in a driverless car will no longer require me to stare at the road, but will let me spend my time in a more meaningful way. How will the interior of a vehicle have to be designed to let the now largely unburdened driver make optimal use of the gain in time?
Rinspeed took inspiration from an existing passive travel experience, business-class flying. The layout of the interior isn’t static like a typical car today. Their concept takes existing automotive interior elements designed for driver-engaged functions and adapts them for a host of passive experience uses. Rinspeed partnered with a long list of manufacturer and technology companies challenging each to push ideas to the limit.
Central to the interior of the XchangE are the seats which were developed by Otto Bock Mobility Solutions, a renowned manufacturer of medical prosthetics. They were inspired by business-class airline seats and are capable of more than twenty possible seating arrangements, which set a world record.
Rinspeed says that passengers will be able to assume virtually any seating or resting position when traveling autonomously. The XchangE interior includes a number of seating amenities like extendable leg rests and foot warming pouches.
Harman developed the infotainment system which includes four screens. Behind the movable steering wheel is a full-width display strip dashboard that delivers vehicle information and navigation and route alerts.
A 32-inch 4K monitor in the rear is gesture controlled and can be used for video calls, internet browsing or movie watching.
Among the companies Rinspeed consulted for the development of the XchangE is Swiss-based Regus Management and Research, which specializes in office rentals. The company sees potential in the XchangE as a future rolling office and mobile conference space which one day might lead to a new type of mobile office lease.
The XchangE is packed with ideas, we’ve highlighted a few. Check out more photos below and the link to the full press release to read about more details.