Rinspeed has a talent for creating rather strange, not practical at all, concept vehicles that are still often interesting enough to warrant a close look. The newly unveiled Rinspeed “Oasis” concept car falls in this category — a self-driving, all-electric “living room on wheels.”
One of the potential selling points for self-driving vehicles is that people will be able to become even lazier, and to treat transportation as another opportunity to sit in the couch passively consuming electronic information of one sort of another.
The new concept takes this supposition literally, and is outfitted with an actual armchair — as well as a TV and a “small garden area.” There’s also a large solar panel on the roof, so I guess the idea is that you can potentially live in there, and just occasionally take a break at a rest stop for various biological requirements.
Interestingly, the concept model utilizes rear-wheel steering — not something you see that often in vehicles, whether concepts or otherwise.
Here’s the full Rinspeed post:
A rolling oasis of ideas in the automotive desert
With his new “Oasis” concept vehicle, Swiss car visionary Frank M. Rinderknecht has created a memorable character role in the narrative of the evolution of personal transport. Quasi as a lone voice in the wilderness, he makes a bold statement against the notion of a city jungle requiring multi-ton SUVs for survival with this clever self-driving electric vehicle for the urban sphere.
“Oasis” is a clear alternative concept to the martial appearance on urban asphalt. The exquisite two-seat runabout looks pretty futuristic with its large glazed areas and front wheel spats. Kind of like a trendy buddy of Star Wars icon R2D2. Both are capable of turning on their own axis with almost a zero radius. Not at all like a gray mouse and not solely designed with a single purpose in mind like Google’s cars, but rather “next generation” — with a host of technical and visual treats inside.
Speaking of the inside: The interior offers a new living space with the ambience of a modern-day family room: armchair, sideboard, TV, and a multifunctional steering wheel, of course. The windshield also serves as a screen for virtual as well as augmented reality.
Who will be the owner of the car, who will be the operator, and what will they use it for? Rinspeed boss Rinderknecht has designed and equipped the vehicle in a way that keeps all conceivable options open in a society willing to share its goods sensibly. “Oasis” can be commuting or shopping car in the morning, act as a “micro delivery vehicle” for urban parcel services in the afternoon, and be a pizza taxi on the evening drive home. This is made possible by a clever code-protected “drawer” in the rear, which can also be cooled or heated as needed. Why move only people in an innovative way with disruptive technology and not also small consignments (at the same time)?
However, Rinderknecht welcomes people to take the name “Oasis” literally as well: The creative Swiss national has integrated a small green space for growing flowers or radishes below the windscreen. Urban gardening on wheels, so to speak. A little bit “out there”? Maybe. But definitely a source of inspiration for everyone looking for something new in the automotive wasteland of uniformity.
The idea that car owners will be fine letting others use their vehicles throughout the day is one aspect of pro-autonomous rhetoric that I’m very skeptical about: How many people are really going to be willing to allow random strangers to use their car when they’re at work or asleep? Why not simply use the self-driving fleet vehicles of a service like Uber or Lyft when necessary and forgo owning a car completely?
If I was to take a guess, I’d say that the sorts of people who prefer to own their own car rather than use Uber are also the sorts of people that don’t want strangers left unsupervised in these same cars for hours at a time.
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