Rinspeed shrinks its modular, self-driving pod car
Almost a year ago, Swiss automaker Rinspeed unveiled its autonomous Snap electric mobility system at the CES trade show in Las Vegas. At 2019's CES, taking place in January, the next chapter in the rather clever project will be revealed – the smaller and more tech-laden microSNAP.
Built in the dimensions of a Renault Twizy, microSNAP follows the same basic premise as the original Snap. There's a base "skateboard" unit containing the 48-volt motor, battery pack and other drivetrain components, onto which interchangeable passenger- and cargo-carrying "pods" are temporarily attached.
This means that depending on what purpose the vehicle is serving, users can swap different pods on and off, instead of using completely separate vehicles for each job. Additionally, once a skateboard wears out, it can be recycled while the longer-lasting pods remain in use.
New with this version is a robotic station that autonomously joins and detaches the skateboards and pods. Additional features include a digital license plate; micro-pixel LED headlights with dazzle-free high beams; exterior lights that communicate with other drivers; interior lights that adapt to the passengers' mood; dimmable window glass; an iris scanner for passenger recognition; and a curved 49-inch LED screen which spans the entire width of the cabin, providing passengers with information and entertainment.
Autonomous driving is handled via a suite of onboard sensors, along with a 5G-based telematics system. As a failsafe, however, there's also a drive-by-wire system that allows passengers to manually steer and brake if need be.
The world premiere of the microSNAP system will take place at CES on Jan. 7th. It will later be featured at the Geneva Motor Show.