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Getting Knee-Deep in Driverless Cars at Geneva 2014

March 5, 2014

Driverless cars have been the hottest and most decidedly sci-fi topic in the motoring industry for many months now – and with this year’s upcoming Geneva Motor Show giving us cheeky peep holes into the future of motoring, we can’t wait to well and truly immerse ourselves in the autonomous car phenomenon.

We don’t know exactly when these crazy robots are scheduled to hit the Earth’s roads, but we know they’re an inevitability. And while this indefinite due date shrouds these exciting new innovations in much unwanted mystery, motorheads and tech lovers alike will be pleased to hear that Geneva gives us a first-hand look at some of the concept cars able to offer some welcome tangibility.

The Swiss motoring magicians at Rinspeed are giving us a look into post-driver civilisation with their XchangE concept. By their estimation, the future of motoring is looking pretty chilled – with the drivers of today’s society swapping the front seat for the back and the wheel for the iPad. While being purely conceptual  at this stage, the XchangE and indeed driverless cars generally should be concrete, legit and available by 2020 (and Mercedes can prove it).

But with initiatives as inherently technological as this, it’s unsurprising that there’s been a ton of emphasis on the technical aspects and not so much on driverless cars from the passenger perspective. Luckily, the Geneva Motor Show 2014 will shift this focus towards what passengers will get out of these vehicles – and give them an idea of what they’ll look like rather than a breakdown of their tech specs.

Rinspeed’s CEO Frank Rinderknecht has an idea of putting the passenger “at the centre of what is possible, not the autonomous driving technology”, which should effectively swing things in favour of the human benefits.

 

Here’s what we know now:

It’s pretty nifty.

The geniuses at Rinspeed have taken a four-seater saloon and sexed up the interior to the point of comparison with a private jet – the insane thing being that they’ve managed it inside of an entirely average-sized Tesla Model S.

Rinspeed’s “crazy Swiss team” (and that’s a direct quote) promise some delightfully offbeat aesthetics, pushing design conventions to their limits for something a lot more agile. His claim is that having none of the constraints, processes or politics of mega corporations leaves them free to think outside the box.

And the freedom continues inside, with passengers able to “swivel, tilt and slide” into 20 different positions, either front or back-facing depending on whether they fancy a cheeky timeout or would rather keep their eyes on the road.

The more passive passenger will enjoy the 32-inch screen they’ll find inside, as well as the two pivoting LCD displays where passengers can check their emails, browse the internet and even take part in video conferences on the move. The seats in which you’ll be enjoying these extras have been developed by medical prosthetic experts to ensure maximum comfort, especially as things can get rather bumpy on the road.

With real time info and cloud services, driverless cars look to offer ultimate ease and accessibility at all times. 

This isn’t the death of driving.

Rinderknecht understands that putting faith in a driverless car is a big leap – but one worth taking. These technologies will revolutionise the motoring world and change the face of the industry forever – but that doesn’t by any means suggest they’ll make old-school hands-on driving obsolete. Mercedes in particular will make driverless technology available as an optional package rather than having it built into their vehicles.

Stay tuned for more updates ahead of this year’s Geneva Motor Show and the inside scoop direct from the experts.

About The Author

Jon Le Roux is co-founder and company director of The Car Loan Warehouse. Being a mad engineering and motorsport enthusiast, I spend more hours than is healthy, watching, reading or talking about cars, boats, motorbikes…..basically anything with an engine.