Autonomous driving is set to become reality in the near future. While the major automakers are putting the finishing touches on the technology, the Swiss idea factory Rinspeed puts man at the center of the autonomous car. At the 2014 Geneva Motor Show Rinspeed presents the "XchangE" study to the public in a world premiere. It demonstrates how cars will ‘move’ us just a few short years from now, in both senses of the word.

The Swiss company provides the answer with an all-electric touring sedan by the name of “XchangE”. In best Helvetic tradition it was engineered by 4erC and built at Esoro. The vehicle features all-new seats reminiscent of the relaxing business-class seats of major airlines. The basic idea behind the seats that offer a host of adjustment, tilting and swiveling options comes from Otto Bock Mobility Solutions, arguably the most renowned manufacturer of medical prosthetics worldwide. This results in more than twenty possible seating arrangements – a world record. 

The futuristic TRW steering wheel with hands-on recognition, drive-mode-manager display in the rim and transparent multifunction keys with ambiance lighting can simply be “parked” in the middle of the instrument panel together with the innovative lightweight steering column with bionic design from Georg Fischer Automotive. This feat is made possible by the multi-redundant “steer-by-wire” technology developed by Swabian Company Paravan, similar to what can be found on modern jet aircraft. It is therefore no wonder that the smart automotive visionary with a wink negates the famous advertising slogan that has become a popular phrase: “Not even flying is better from now on!”

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Passengers will be able to assume virtually any seating or resting position when traveling in a fully autonomous vehicle in the future, which will require a completely new operating and display concept. It is supplied by infotainment specialist Harman. The new concept uses the manufacturer’s all-new next-generation scalable infotainment platform, which is based on HTML5 and provides comprehensive protection against hacker attacks. In the “XchangE” it offers numerous functions for navigation, entertainment, assistance and services that are displayed on a total of four screens. A 1.2-meter-wide display strip in the steering-wheel support provides important information in wide-screen format. A 32-inch 4K monitor in the rear transforms the “XchangE” into a highly comfortable on-demand UHD movie theatre on wheels. It is controlled with simple gestures. 

Of course the “XchangE” is also fully networked with the outside world. The in-car consolidation of real-time sensor data that is crucial for “Car2X” communications is handled by the infotainment system, which communicates with the Cloud via an integrated LTE module. Deutsche Telekom and its fast LTE network provide the secure data transmission. All incoming vehicle data – from the Harman infotainment system and other vehicle systems – are compiled and analyzed on a standardized “Business-to-Car” platform of Deutsche Telekom. The intelligent links to numerous other online data sources thus create travel-specific Cloud services such as warning messages or recommendations on route and driving profiles, which are available to all road users in real time. The more vehicles and service providers are networked via the manufacturer-independent “Business-to-Car” platform, the more everyone traveling by car benefits from added safety and convenience.

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Towering above everything in the moveable steering column is the world’s arguably most expensive watch winder. Swiss watchmaker Carl F. Bucherer has implanted its PatraviTravelTec wristwatch in a transparent globe. When the car is stationary, the globe spins driven by an electric motor and in the process winds the mechanical watch movement! Crazy, playful, but somehow also ingenious and wickedly expensive. 

The “XchangE” – as a Tesla evolution – is sitting on 20-inch Borbet highest-quality alloy wheels with glistening “Reflectic” finish is a true eye-catcher. However, Swiss Company Regus Management and Research focuses on the more “inner values” of the “XchangE” as an office on wheels. The specialist for office rental maintains 1,800 locations in more than 100 countries and develops new business opportunities. The company definitely sees potential for using the “XchangE” as a mobile office and traveling conference center.

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You can read, listen to music, surf the web, play games and watch movies in brilliant picture and sound quality. Or you can hold a four-party meeting at 120 km/h and work on your files while brewing a fresh cup of Italian Amici espresso. The creators of the “XchangE” are certain that autonomous driving will actually make individual travel even more attractive compared with traveling by train, plane or long-distance coach. As Rinderknecht puts it: “I am given free time that I can use for myself anyway I please, while the sensor systems and the connectivity chauffeur me safely and reliably to my destination.” Why not take the time then to get to know this extremely interesting concept car, which will be showcased at the Geneva Motor Show with publicity support from Saarbrucken-based ad agency Vollmond.