If there're features that have great potential to sell the public at large on the concept of self-driving cars, we're guessing that cozy, rear-facing seats and a gigantic in-car 4K television are high on the list. If you've heard of the Swiss company Rinspeed, you almost certainly associate it with outlandish concept cars, and this XchangE autonomous EV fits that description, while still providing insight into a seemingly plausible future.

Always a highlight of the Geneva Motor Show, this year's Rinspeed concept has transformed a Tesla Model S into a self-piloting, business class, mobility pod. Or something very like that. Sure, you can drive the XchangE for yourself if you like, but then you'd miss out using the all-new, HTML5-based infotainment platform or the aforementioned mobile movie theatre, which is operable via gesture controls. No more losing the remote down the seat crack for you.

Beyond the show car "wow factor" items like the striking interior treatment and green-on-yellow paint scheme, it is interesting to see that Rinspeed has taken electronic security very seriously for the concept car. The infotainment platform is said to be bolstered against hacker attacks, the LTE wireless system offers secure data transmission, and the car systems themselves use RFID tech to identify authorized drivers. Considering the legitimate concerns associated with autonomous cars in a fully computerized, connected environment, high-security while on the motorway might be the biggest luxury of all.

Find the usual complement of video, press release and official photos below and see our live gallery of the XchangE concept, above.
Show full PR text
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 - www.4erc.ch
Amici Caffè AG - www.amici.ch
A.T. Kearney Global Management Consultants - www.atkearney.com
Borbet Vertriebs GmbH - www.borbet.de
Carl F. Bucherer - www.carl-f-bucherer.com
Deutsche Telekom - www.telekom.de
Eberspächer Climate Control Systems GmbH & Co. KG - www.eberspaecher.com
Esoro AG - www.esoro.ch
Evonik Industries AG - www.evonik.com
Georg Fischer Automotive AG - www.gfau.com
Harman International, Inc. - www.harman.com
KRD Sicherheitstechnik GmbH - www.kasiglas.de
Linde Material Handling - www.linde-mh.de
Mansory Design & Holding GmbH - www.mansory.com
Otto Bock Mobility Solutions GmbH - www.ottobock.com
Paravan GmbH - www.paravan.de
Regus Global Management and Research Center SA - www.regus.com
Schoeller GmbH & Co KG - www.schoeller-wool.com
Sika Schweiz AG - www.sika.com
Strähle+Hess GmbH - www.straehle-hess.de
TRW Automotive GmbH - www.trw.com
vollmond marketing . kommunikation - www.agentur-vollmond.de
Weidmann Plastics Technology AG - www.weidmann-plastics.com


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  • 14 Comments
      Joeviocoe
      • 9 Months Ago
      I am more interested in that Articulating Chargin Arm that will plug into the Tesla's charger port. With so many people wanting to develop "wireless charging" via coils in the ground and coils in the underpanel of the car... they tout convenience of the system. Saying that people will be willing to pay for the extra expense: 1) The vehicles charging system (redesigning for coils where the battery is now located, and the extra charging components for higher frequency electronics) 2) Extra cost of chargers and the limitations of power. Very much unlikely to achieve anywhere near 120KW at any reasonable sense of safety and efficiency. 3) Extra cost of electricity. No charger is 100% efficient. Conductive charging is the most efficient, and inductive (wireless) charging is a loss that must be ADDED to any losses already occurring. An articulating arm would have very little cost compared to a wireless system... and the cost is ONLY for each station... not every charging station + every EV. The mechanics may require regular maintenance, but the mechanics are well known and could easily be designed to fail safe and allow the driver to charge manually. -------------------------- Not only is this a basic convenience for people too lazy to spend a few seconds to plug in... it enables a truly autonomous valet. Think about the limited number of Superchargers. Right now, there are enough for the Model S. But when the rate of Tesla sales significantly out paces the construction rate of Superchargers, Tesla owners might need to start worrying about a queue. And since Tesla drivers cannot be expected to wait by their car for 40 minutes, nor run out of a restaurant if they get a 'charge complete' alert... it would be very nice for an automated system to unplug the Tesla, and drive over to a designated holding lot after the charge is complete. Also, an autonomous valet system will allow those infamous "street parkers" to drive BEVs. Something FCV advocates have been saying is impossible (since they can only be bothered to spend up to 10 minutes per week at a centralized station rather than Supercharge once or twice a week for 40 minutes each). During the night, an Autonomous car can drive over to the nearest available fast charger. Plug itself in, charge up with enough energy for the next 5-7 days. And since most cars will sit parked, doing nothing, for 10+ hours every night. There is plenty of time for several thousand BEVs to schedule an autocharge session online.
        Joeviocoe
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        It won't seem too fantastic once people get used to the idea with incremented steps of Autonomous driving: 1) Driver assistance on the highway (lane keeping, alerts, adaptive cruise) 2) Autopilot on highway with Driver backup (allow for distracted drivers to watch movies, surf web, etc) 3) Valet Parking Autopilot (Vehicle can negotiate RF marker equipped parking lots/structures to drop off passengers, and park itself) 4) Metro Parking Autopilot (Vehicles can negotiate slow speed city traffic to park several blocks away) 5) Self-Charger Autopilot... Vehicles could then be trusted to schedule and seek out new chargers (and new civilizations), to boldly go where no EV has gone by itself before. *Yes, EVs like the Leaf will likely have to evolve quite a bit further. Tesla's are real close now.* An EV like the Leaf would need to double the range, double the Fast Charging power, and allow for quick battery swaps.... to even match what the Model E is proposed to do. Not to mention that Nissan has no intention of building a charging infrastructure anything like Tesla's.
          Joeviocoe
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Even without any technological limitations... the economic barriers are what make "embedding roads with chargers" a non-starters. Pound for pound, economics limit good ideas more often than technological limitations. Asphalt-only roads are expensive enough to build and maintain. Embedding chargers is not scaleable beyond what a university might do on their test track. ------------------- I am willing to bet that Autonomously driving cars will 'self-charge'... way before people are 'driving over' embedded chargers in any reasonable stretch of roadway. One requires someone to front the massive infrastructure, and the other is the natural progress of technology which can scale in parallel with Autonomous Car technology.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Even with autonomous vehicle charging, I still think wireless charging has serious potential. Especially if we let those car drive autonomously over roads with embedded chargers. No need for them to stop moving, keep the queue rolling, and at the end of the charging road, they go home. No need to wait for an articulated arm. http://green.autoblog.com/2012/05/18/evs-utah-state-university-quietly-working-on-in-road-wireless-c/
          Joeviocoe
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Regarding the idea EVs could "queue" up on embedded surfaces while waiting for a conductive charger to free up. Seems like a high additional expense, for such a small benefit. My idea requires nothing extra for each car. Your idea requires that the automaker include inductive charging in addition to conductive charging. So why would the Charging station owner pay for coils embedded in the ground, when it would be cheaper to install more charging stalls? Each set of coils would still need to lined up to the car's position, and this system from your link is only 5KW with a 10% loss. So with all that expense, low power, waiting for a high power charger that is 25 times more powerful... yeah, just put in extra stalls.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        "Also, an autonomous valet system will allow those infamous "street parkers" to drive BEVs." It's interesting to consider. Larger capacity BEVs (like the 85kWh MS) would only need charging once a week or so, but lesser capacity BEVs like the Leaf would still require nightly charging. Imagine: dozens (hundreds, thousands!) of driverless autonomous vehicles, leaving their homes every night, to converge on a computer-choreographed charging orgy, with self-articulated arms reaching out to insert the plugs... LOL. It's a bit too fantastic, but dreamers can dream.
      Koenigsegg
      • 9 Months Ago
      do not want a car that drives it self. i want to be in control, not some freakin robot the future is looking bad.
        SublimeKnight
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        I'm sure you'll be able to have a car that you drive yourself. The insurance on it will be 20x what it is today, but you'll have the option.
          Bernard
          • 9 Months Ago
          @SublimeKnight
          You'll be able to drive your own car on a closed circuit race course without insurance as much as you want. You'll just have to pay the track owner for access.
        Actionable Mango
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        Don't worry about it. Innovation is stifled by the speed of government, and adoption is stifled by consumer fear. Also the enormous existing inventory of non-autonomous cars is not going to disappear any time soon. Even the initial related technology that's available right now, like lane departure warning and automatic parallel parking, are not widespread in all cars. We won't see widespread autonomous vehicle use for decades.
      AddLightness
      • 9 Months Ago
      WTF I never saw it stop to charge at a Supercharging station :P Maybe the car is powered by the girl's good looks? This is seriously cool. It's amazing to think that this will be the norm in my lifetime. Hopefully one day we can look back on days with accidents/deaths caused by drunk/distracted/reckless driving as a thing of the past
        SublimeKnight
        • 9 Months Ago
        @AddLightness
        People will look back on today as the wild west. "So Grandpa... people controlled 1500kg vehicles at over 120km/h (I'm assuming we probably switch to metric) and the only thing that stopped them from running into each other was a line painted on the road?"
          flubadub
          • 9 Months Ago
          @SublimeKnight
          It sounds like a future in which the masses view themselves as farm animals, managed by Big Mother, for their own good. Of course, democracy will be viewed as a peculiar experiment that put too much trust in human nature, but the masses will be too effectively brainwashed to imagine any dissent.
          Thereminator
          • 9 Months Ago
          @SublimeKnight
          " That's right sony,we drove our own cars and when I was 24 I ran-over our neighbor and buried him in the back yard,without any help! Lets keep this between us men,no need bothering yer folks....Ok? ; )
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