- The self-driving Rinspeed XchangE concept car will debut at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show.
- A teaser image of the XchangE shows the driver sleeping.
- The steering wheel is "not a hindrance" and can be "parked" in the middle of the dashboard, the quirky Swiss manufacturer said.
GENEVA — The public is still waiting for those flying cars featured in The Jetsons, but the next best thing may be the self-driving Rinspeed XchangE, which debuts in March at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show.
A teaser image of the XchangE concept shows the driver sleeping. Another image shows the driver turned away from the windshield and conversing with a rear-seat passenger while the two enjoy cappuccinos.
The steering wheel is "not a hindrance" and can be "parked" in the middle of the dashboard, the quirky Swiss manufacturer said. The XchangE gets a steer-by-wire system.
Rinspeed doesn't indicate when such a vehicle may hit the road. In fact, it describes itself as an "automotive visionary with a wink."
"So far hardly anyone has taken this to its logical conclusion from the perspective of the driver," said Rinspeed CEO Frank M. Rinderknecht. "After all, traveling in a driverless car will no longer require me to stare at the road, but will let me spend my time in a more meaningful way."
With that notion as a guideline, the XchangE design focused on the mission of creating an interior that caters to the "unburdened driver" and maximizes his or her ability to put time formerly spent behind the wheel to productivity or leisure.
"You can read, listen to music, surf the Web, play games, watch movies in brilliant picture and sound quality or hold a meeting at 120 km/h and work on your files," Rinspeed said.
The car's slogan is, "Not even flying is better!"
Details are yet to be revealed, but the fully electric XchangE will have seats modeled after first-class or business-class accommodations on jetliners.
Rinspeed joins a growing number of automakers and tech companies making forays into autonomous vehicles.
Nissan said it is aiming to put autonomous vehicles on the road by 2020.
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said earlier this year that his electric-car company has had discussions with Google about autonomous driving technology, but tweeted that self-driving Tesla cars are "still a few years from production."
Toyota's ambitious plans for self-driving cars include vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.
Edmunds says: Google promoted its self-driving Toyota Prius by putting a blind man behind the wheel in a viral YouTube video. But Rinspeed goes a step further with its snoozing driver.