Drones are where it’s at, according to auto designer Frank M. Rinderknecht of Rinspeed. The self-proclaimed “Swiss car visionary” seems to think the car of the future needs to have a drone, among other quirky finishing touches. If you’ve never heard of Rinderknecht or Rinspeed, you’re not alone. Although the company has been around for decades, the vehicles created never go into production. Their concept cars go on tour, and are often showcased among elite sports cars, but despite the stir they make, they remain one-of-a-kind. The latest design is set to debut in Las Vegas, at The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2016, but Rinspeed has been kind enough to give an early preview.
Introducing the Rinspeed Σtos
The Rinspeed Σtos is about as sporty as a car can be, and follows the direction that many automakers are going today- it’s autonomous. Drivers have the option to switch back and forth at will, though the busy exec will appreciate one extra perk. While many luxury automakers, like BMW, are converting their back seats into traveling executive offices, the Σtos doesn’t have a back seat, so the front converts. Given that it can be driven in autonomous mode, risk of becoming distracted behind the wheel is already minimized, but Rinderknecht designed the steering wheel to retract into the dash, just to be sure. Two curved widescreens can be shifted to allow both “driver” and passenger an optimal view, and the entire system runs on Harman Connected Car technology. This delivers a whole host of amazing features, that can help keep occupants safe, connect them to the Internet, make recommendations about vehicle maintenance, predict when parts will wear out and keep you out of the auto collision repair shop!
The Σtos also Comes with a Drone
The vehicle also features a drone, which its designer says can be used to snap pictures of the occupants as they tour, or may be sent to fetch flowers, and will then deliver them to a lucky copilot. While the company’s press release makes no mention of functional uses for the drone, surely there must be one. Realistically, the drone, which docks to the rear of the Σtos when not in use, would probably be used to taunt other drivers, but due to the absent steering wheel, it would likely never be approved by authorities for street-driving anyway. That is, if wasn’t just a concept car.
Rinspeed is No Stranger to Innovation
The company has about two-dozen concept cars under its belt now, and although you’ve probably never heard of the company, you have undoubtedly heard of some of their innovations.
sQuba: The Rinspeed sQuba is reminiscent of a 007 vehicle, and as the name suggests, it operates under water. It’s a sleek sports car on land, and is also autonomous, but don’t take it underwater if you want to stay dry. The top is always open, though the car provides scuba masks while for “underwater flying.”
Presto: The Rinspeed Presto somewhat resembles a modern VW Beetle. It’s a peppy little two-seater, up until you need extra space. Then, the rear of the car extends an extra 2.5 feet, and provides an additional row of seats. When the space is no longer needed, the floor folds up again, and the rear panels slide inward at the touch of a button.
Budii: Rinspeed likens the Budii to an automotive friend. Like the others, it features an option for autonomous driving. Instead of having a standard steering wheel, it has a seven-axis robotic arm, which is still a steering wheel, but it’s cooler. It can be switched from driver to driver, and it gyrates to generate power for a manual onboard watch. That’s not the quirkiest feature, though, the car also uses a periscope to monitor road conditions and to aid the autonomous driving system. It’s loaded with technology, connects with smartphones, and can integrate with other systems outside the car. The company gives the example of starting a bath at home, as the vehicle makes its way there. On top of all this, it also has lounge-style features, like ambient lighting, Plexiglas work stations, and window blinds. The designer says there’s a “wellness shower in the headliner,” though doesn’t elaborate more than that.
Many of the things included in Rinspeed concept cars are incorporated into other vehicles later, so drones really could appear as an upgrade in the coming years. In any case, the Σtos is pretty awesome, even if it will never hit the streets.