Automotive

Rinspeed makes the self-driving car your best Budii

Rinspeed makes the self-drivin...
The Budii concept will debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show
The Budii concept will debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show
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Rendering of the Budii interior and its adjustable steering wheel
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Rendering of the Budii interior and its adjustable steering wheel
The Budii concept will debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show
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The Budii concept will debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

Times are good for Swiss automotive think tank Rinspeed. After years of coming up with fun but improbable automotive novelty concepts like the sQuba diver and iChange shape shifter, Rinspeed is now able to focus on designs that might actually have an impact on an automotive market that's in a state of technological acceleration. Earlier this year, it took us inside the autonomous car with the XchangE, and next year it plans to show us how that car will be more than just a means of transportation. It'll be your best Budii.

In teasing the Budii this week, Rinspeed made clear that the new concept picks up where the XchangE left off, showing how the hardware and software of the autonomous car will combine for a heightened user experience that applies to both workweek commuting and weekend pleasure driving. With the concept, Rinspeed imagines the self-driving car becoming the owner's best friend. Like a loyal hound, the Budii learns from its owner and environment and adapts to better serve its master, starting by acting as a chauffeur that autonomously drives to and fro.

Rinspeed imagines Budii's self-driving capabilities being limited mostly to tedious, traffic-infested, workweek-type commutes. The car will bravely do all the navigating, stopping and going, and lane changing so that you, its best friend, can enjoy some free time immediately before and after work.

Rendering of the Budii interior and its adjustable steering wheel
Rendering of the Budii interior and its adjustable steering wheel

Similar to the XchangE, the Budii features an optional steering wheel that allows the driver to take control whenever he or she wants. In fact, the steering wheel can swing out to the left or right via a robotic arm, turning either the traditional driver or passenger position into the driver's seat of the moment. During autonomous driving, the steering wheel is parked in between seats. The idea here is that the autonomous car doesn't eliminate driving, which many people enjoy, but merely the necessity and hassle of driving. The owner remains as free as ever to spend his summer and fall taking the controls of scenic drives through the country, along the coast, and over and around the mountains.

"The transition from traditional to autonomous driving will take place in stages," explains Rinspeed chief Frank Rinderknecht. "Consequently, man and machine will still have a few years left to get used to this new form of mobility and the different interplay between people and technology it will entail, time they both will need.

"[Cars] will keep learning each day, and as a result will get better and better at mastering the complex challenges of modern-day private transport."

Rinspeed hasn't yet provided further details about the Budii's "host of innovations," but based on the description of it as a "friend on wheels," we expect it to have some high-tech features that create a highly personalized user experience. As it usually does, Rinspeed will provide more details as the 2015 Geneva Motor Show draws nearer.

Source: Rinspeed

1 comment
Mel Tisdale
I bet the criminal community can't wait for these autonomous cars to come into fashion. They will be limited to the speed limit of the area they are in so it will be possible for a thief to judge precisely just how far off the car needs to be so that when they step out in front of one, they do not get hit, but only just not.
Then the second thief steps behind the car. Assuming that it is a safety conscious car, that will then not let the 'driver' drive off forwards or backwards, even if they wanted to because the thieves could easily be normal, if death-defying, pedestrians.
Enter thief number three, who, perhaps with the aid of a sledgehammer, 'opens' one of the doors and smashes the door switch.
No self-respecting autonomous car is going to allow itself to drive off with what it understands to be an open door, so there you have one immobilised car at a location of the thieves' choosing and vulnerable to whatever they have in mind, physical violence included.
Having said all that, Rinspeed do at least seem to have cottoned on to the fact that there are never going to be fully autonomous cars, but in their place cars of the future will bristle with driving aids that will make them very much safer for all. For instance, in the 'attack' scenario outlined above, if the car still has a driver, the immobilising features of an autonomous car could be replaced by loud warning blasts inside the car if it is about to hit a pedestrian. That only works if there is a driver to warn. If there is, then they can choose to push anyone who is attacking them out of the way if they want to. I know what I would choose to do and that is infinitely preferable to having to defend myself from a knife wielding villain. I imagine a jury would have some sympathy for my chosen course of action. I wonder what my coroner would say about my death if my autonomous car had delivered me (and any fellow travellers) into danger.
I just hope that all the hype surrounding autonomous cars is just that: 'hype,' and that in the background there are wiser minds at work. At least to the extend of making it a simple matter to be able to disable/convert autonomous driving features into non-autonomous driving aids.