Like it or not, the age of the self-driving autonomous automobile is just around the corner. But what form will a car's cabin take when the emphasis is taken off of human operation? That's the question that Rinspeed aims to answer with the XchangE concept. Previewed two months ago, Rinspeed has now revealed details, photos and even video footage of the self-driving electric vehicle. This year's concept car from the self-styled "Swiss idea factory" takes a Tesla Model S and modifies it for autonomous operation, freeing up the driver to sit back and enjoy the ride.

The redesigned cockpit includes a pair of highly adjustable front seats that can tilt, swivel and recline to make for a business class-like cabin space for driver and passenger. The drive-by-wire steering wheel slides out of the way when not in use. The dashboard displays all manner of data on four screens through a scalable infotainment package controlled by gestures, based on HTML5 and developed by Harman. The vehicle is fully networked with car-to-car communications and integrated LTE connectivity furnished by Deutsche Telekom. Access to the calming cabin space is granted by RFID technology, there's an LED plexiglass roof panel and a Carl F. Bucherer timepiece mounted in a watch winder on the dashboard.

It all comes across as a rather innovative take on the automobile from a design firm known for doing exactly that with its annual Geneva show cars. There's plenty more to digest in the press release, so check it out along with the video footage below and scope out the hundred-plus high-resolution images in the gallery above.

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2014 Geneva Motor Show:
Rinspeed presents the future of autonomous driving. What will move us tomorrow: the office and living room on wheels.
Traveling in business-class style redefined with innovative Harman infotainment concept.

Autonomous driving is set to become reality in the near future. While the major automakers are putting the finishing touches on the technology, the Swiss idea factory Rinspeed puts man at the center of the autonomous car. At the 2014 Geneva Motor Show Rinspeed presents the "XchangE" study to the public in a world premiere. It demonstrates how cars will 'move' us just a few short years from now, in both senses of the word. Frank M. Rinderknecht describes the status quo like this: "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." And then he poses the key question: 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?

The Swiss company provides the answer with an all-electric touring sedan by the name of "XchangE". In best Helvetic tradition it was engineered by 4erC and built at Esoro. The vehicle features all-new seats reminiscent of the relaxing business-class seats of major airlines. The basic idea behind the seats that offer a host of adjustment, tilting and swiveling options comes from Otto Bock Mobility Solutions, arguably the most renowned manufacturer of medical prosthetics worldwide. This results in more than twenty possible seating arrangements - a world record. The futuristic TRW steering wheel with hands-on recognition, drive-mode-manager display in the rim and transparent multifunction keys with ambiance lighting can simply be "parked" in the middle of the instrument panel together with the innovative lightweight steering column with bionic design from Georg Fischer Automotive. This feat is made possible by the multi-redundant "steer-by-wire" technology developed by Swabian Company Paravan, similar to what can be found on modern jet aircraft. It is therefore no wonder that the smart automotive visionary with a wink negates the famous advertising slogan that has become a popular phrase: "Not even flying is better from now on!"

Passengers will be able to assume virtually any seating or resting position when traveling in a fully autonomous vehicle in the future, which will require a completely new operating and display concept. It is supplied by infotainment specialist Harman. The new concept uses the manufacturer's all-new next-generation scalable infotainment platform, which is based on HTML5 and provides comprehensive protection against hacker attacks. In the "XchangE" it offers numerous functions for navigation, entertainment, assistance and services that are displayed on a total of four screens. A 1.2-meter-wide display strip in the steering-wheel support provides important information in wide-screen format. A 32-inch 4K monitor in the rear transforms the "XchangE" into a highly comfortable on-demand UHD movie theatre on wheels. It is controlled with simple gestures.

Of course the "XchangE" is also fully networked with the outside world. The in-car consolidation of real-time sensor data that is crucial for "Car2X" communications is handled by the infotainment system, which communicates with the Cloud via an integrated LTE module. Deutsche Telekom and its fast LTE network provide the secure data transmission. All incoming vehicle data - from the Harman infotainment system and other vehicle systems - are compiled and analyzed on a standardized "Business-to-Car" platform of Deutsche Telekom. The intelligent links to numerous other online data sources thus create travel-specific Cloud services such as warning messages or recommendations on route and driving profiles, which are available to all road users in real time. The more vehicles and service providers are networked via the manufacturer-independent "Business-to-Car" platform, the more everyone traveling by car benefits from added safety and convenience.

An intelligent access control system that uses RFID technology to identify the authorized driver or drivers switches on the essential functions of the "XchangE". It comes from the parts portfolio of forklift manufacturer Linde Material Handling. As on the company's forklifts and other materials handling equipment, the technical signals from the sensors and the vehicle control system are compiled by the "connect:" data-logging unit and transmitted continuously to the Cloud via the T network. The software of the "connect:" unit makes it possible to analyze all operating data and generate reports, for example for fleet operators.

The avant-garde interior concept developed by Strähle+Hess ensures a unique feel-good atmosphere. It is made of textiles whose blue and gray gradations create a maritime flair. These calming colors reinforce the relaxation effect while traveling in the "XchangE". The focus of the textile development was in particular on the touch and feel of the fabrics, and the raw materials were selected to individually tailor their characteristics to the various comfort zones. Natural resources such as Merino wool and silk were also used, which were processed by Schoeller spinning mill from Bregenz, Austria. As a result there are intelligent yarns in the intelligent car.

The revolutionary Plexiglas roof from Evonik Industries ensures a striking appearance. It features "Radiant" surface coating and shimmers in all colors of the rainbow. 358 individually controlled LEDs in the "EndLighten" headliner and another 98 in the instrument panel create an individual feel-good atmosphere. This innovative LED technology was supplied by Swiss Company Weidmann Plastics Technology. Numerous additional Plexiglas elements in front and rear fascia, rocker panels and rear spoiler, which were all created by refinement specialist Mansory, are also supplied by Evonik chemicals group. They were processed and hardened and tempered by KRD in Geesthacht before being mounted using adhesives and sealants from Sika. A high-end PTC heater from Stuttgart-based system partner and source of inspiration Eberspächer ensures cozy warmth.

Towering above everything in the moveable steering column is the world's arguably most expensive watch winder. Swiss watchmaker Carl F. Bucherer has implanted its Patravi TravelTec wristwatch in a transparent globe. When the car is stationary, the globe spins driven by an electric motor and in the process winds the mechanical watch movement! Crazy, playful, but somehow also ingenious and wickedly expensive.

The "XchangE" - as a Tesla evolution - is sitting on 20-inch Borbet highest-quality alloy wheels with glistening "Reflectic" finish is a true eye-catcher. However, Swiss Company Regus Management and Research focuses on the more "inner values" of the "XchangE" as an office on wheels. The specialist for office rental maintains 1,800 locations in more than 100 countries and develops new business opportunities. The company definitely sees potential for using the "XchangE" as a mobile office and traveling conference center. For this conclusion it can draw upon a study by Düsseldorf-based consulting agency A.T. Kearney Consultants, which examined the changes to the digital society that will be affected by autonomous driving in the future.

You can read, listen to music, surf the web, play games and watch movies in brilliant picture and sound quality. Or you can hold a four-party meeting at 120 km/h and work on your files while brewing a fresh cup of Italian Amici espresso. The creators of the "XchangE" are certain that autonomous driving will actually make individual travel even more attractive compared with traveling by train, plane or long-distance coach. As Rinderknecht puts it: "I am given free time that I can use for myself anyway I please, while the sensor systems and the connectivity chauffeur me safely and reliably to my destination." Why not take the time then to get to know this extremely interesting concept car, which will be showcased at the Geneva Motor Show with publicity support from Saarbrucken-based ad agency Vollmond.

The 2014 Geneva Motor Show will take place March 6 to 16, 2014. The Rinspeed "XchangE" is already the twentieth concept vehicle of the Swiss think tank and "mobility lab."

The partners and suppliers in the realization of the "XchangE" are:
4erC GmbH -
Amici Caffè AG -
A.T. Kearney Global Management Consultants -
Borbet Vertriebs GmbH -
Carl F. Bucherer -
Deutsche Telekom -
Eberspächer Climate Control Systems GmbH & Co. KG -
Esoro AG -
Evonik Industries AG -
Georg Fischer Automotive AG -
Harman International, Inc. -
KRD Sicherheitstechnik GmbH -
Linde Material Handling -
Mansory Design & Holding GmbH -
Otto Bock Mobility Solutions GmbH -
Paravan GmbH -
Regus Global Management and Research Center SA -
Schoeller GmbH & Co KG -
Sika Schweiz AG -
Strähle+Hess GmbH -
TRW Automotive GmbH -
vollmond marketing . kommunikation -
Weidmann Plastics Technology AG -

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Neutral President
      • 10 Months Ago
      Without the silly yellow insert, that front bumper cover is REALLY niceā€¦ i like it better than the fake "mouth" on the stock Model S.
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Neutral President
        I beg to differ... looks too much like a cheap body kit.
      • 10 Months Ago
      I always wonder how Rinspeed can stay in business to produce mad cars. How many equally mad, but rich, customers are available?
        • 10 Months Ago
        Rinspeed is famous for the crazy show cars, but they're just for fun. Rinspeed has a very respected business selling, servicing, and customizing high-end cars.
      • 10 Months Ago
      Fast forward to 2:14 and you can see it being towed by another car. So not exactly self driving.
      • 10 Months Ago
      I like the look of the front end a lot more than the big black bubble.
      • 10 Months Ago
      They both look like they came from a yogurt commercial.
      • 10 Months Ago
      So beautiful. I love the styling of the Tesla Model S
      • 10 Months Ago
      that angry Charlie Brown mouth on the front is hideous
      Robert Fahey
      • 10 Months Ago
      Looks like a SEMA entry, as in See Everyone's Mangled Autos
      • 10 Months Ago
      Well, never say never. But at this point, that not the sort of future that piques my interest.
      That Guy
      • 10 Months Ago
      Will it drive itself to a fire station then?
        • 10 Months Ago
        @That Guy
        If so it would be a great addition to gasoline fueled cars.
      • 10 Months Ago
      • 10 Months Ago
      It's time to kill the grill. We don't need the Tesla "nosecone" or the Rinspeed yellow teeth.
        • 10 Months Ago
        Tesla incorporated the grille to help people adjust to the 2nd gen Teslas (Model S, Model X). Going forward you could expect to see some crazier designs.
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