We’ve more or less got used to the idea that driverless cars are a fast-approaching reality; all we’re doing now is waiting for the technology to get cheaper and for governments to decide exactly when and where it’s appropriate to use them.
However, this concept vehicle from Swiss manufacturer Rinspeed cuts through all this tedious (but worthwhile) decision-making to deliver what we really want: a car we can sit backwards in. And watch movies. And use our laptops. And maybe have a quick espresso.
Okay, so that last activity isn’t on everyone’s wish-list, but the idea that the driverless car will turn your battered Ford into a magical mobile living room is spot on. In the future driving isn’t really an activity you participate in – it’s just a quick cinema trip between locations A and B.
The car in question is the XchangE Driverless Tesla Model S and it’s currently on display at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. As well as those swivelling seats and leg-rests the Xchange (I’ll stomach novelty spelling or vanity capitalisation but not both) also features a 32-inch 4K TV, a 4G mobile data connection and a 1.2-metre wide display that functions as a dashboard.
The video above shows the car in a bit more detail – though we can’t figure out why exactly Rinspeed though that the most appropriate representation of humanity’s future would be a pair of Swedish house DJs slash knitwear enthusiasts. (Though given the curiously empty roads in the ad we're betting it's some sort of post-apocalyptic cult).
For all the cultural desolation of the XchangE it does do exactly what a concept car should - raise questions about the future of driving. As we begin to cede more and more control over our cars to computers, questions about how much control we'll need to keep over hem will keep on arising.
Driverless car demonstrations on real roads always include a human driver, ready to grab the wheel incase the robot on-board decides to go rogue and starting gunning it for Vegas, but once regular drivers get used to their cars keeping them on the straight and narrow, they're bound to stop paying attention.
Once you take the driving out of driving, you're basically just sitting down for long periods of time - so why not start that book you were thinking about or catch up on that pastel-coloured turtleneck you were knitting?
Thankfully, experts believe that it will be a while before fully autonomous cars are a reality. Even if the current cutting-edge technology becomes widespread cars will still have difficulty dealing with situations that require human intuition (like pulling out of a busy junction) or driving conditions that cloud the car's sensors (heavy rain will do it).
Still, it's not these moments that require drivers' attention that are the problem - it's when we get too comfortable with our robot chauffeurs and start putting our feet up on the road.Reuse content