Rinspeed out of Switzerland is known for its wild, over-the-top creations, ranging from an fully autonomous i8 to a tiny electric microbus. The firm’s latest built is no less unique; it’s called the Snap Mobility concept, and it lives up to its name in the most appropriate way possible.
Making its debut at CES in Las Vegas this January, the Snap concept aims to reduce congestion and pollution in crowded cities. How it will do that is by allowing the chassis to connect to different cabins – or "pods" – that be removed or added, resulting in "skateboard"-like chassis for multiple uses. The concept is similar GM's Surus platform that was introduced earlier this week.
Both the chassis and varying pods are reportedly free of mechanical wear and only contain long-lasting IT components. The pods range in use from delivery vehicles, to public transport, to mobile living areas, and can even be used separate from the Snap platform (i.e.: a mobile office). The latter of the three aims to provide a fully connected user experience for the occupants, whether on the road or not.
Like many Rinspeed concepts before it, the Snap concept is said to be completely autonomous, and comes with a fully electric powertrain. The company neglected to provide any specifics as to performance, range, or charge time. "'Snap' - rarely before did the name of a vehicle better describe a solution for the problems of the entire industry," said the company in a statement. "It would be nice if the concept car from the Swiss made it go 'click' for the mobility industry."
The new Rinspeed Snap concept will make its debut at CES in Vegas when doors open to the convention center on January 9, 2018.
Self-driving electric cars full of IT components are supposed to relieve the burden on congested streets and polluted cities. With the “Snap” concept vehicle, Swiss think tank Rinspeed shows off a comprehensive approach for how this could work: For the first time, the vehicles also offer meaningful immobile use, because the chassis and the body structures go their separate ways.
As a result, unused sheet metal or “rolling stock” are things of the past. Mobility visionary Frank M. Rinderknecht simply relegates all components susceptible to wear and aging as well as all technology relevant to data processing to the so-called “skateboard,” the consequently “intelligent” and fully automated chassis of the electric vehicle. The body structures go by the umbrella term “pod” and consist of long-lived modules. They are virtually free from mechanical wear and only contain long-lasting IT components that are not bound to be outdated quickly. “Up top” it is all about the particular purpose of use - from a versatile delivery pod to a breathtaking, fully connected user experience for the occupants of a passenger pod.
With it, the clever Swiss solve a problem that many of us know from the navigation system in our own car: The thing no longer finds the way, because the software and map data are outdated. What is only irritating in this context, can quickly become a matter of safety in the near future in self-driving cars. Because after just a few short years, most conventional IT components can no longer be updated owing to the fact that the rapid software development has simply rendered the hardware obsolete. The rest of the vehicle may stay on the roads for the entire service life of a car - that is to say, 18 years and more.
The ingenious idea behind it: While the classic automakers celebrate the moment when the body and the chassis come together (“marriage”) as a highlight of every plant tour, “skateboards” and “pods” of the “Snap” are only temporary companions, which in turn however are together day and night. Versatile pods - such as for passenger transport, delivery or parcel services or the weekend adventure trip with the entire family - use whatever chassis happens to be available at the time. The pods can also be put to stationary use - for example, as a temporary office in the heart of the city. And the skateboards? After a few short but intense years, they are completely recycled, because they have reached the end of their useful life. As a result, they elegantly elude an expensive and complicated hardware upgrade.
“Snap” - rarely before did the name of a vehicle better describe a solution for the problems of the entire industry. It would be nice if the concept car from the Swiss made it go “click” for the mobility industry.