Self-driving Rinspeed concept could streamline urban transport

Renault Twizy-sized Microsnap autonomous shuttle aims to revolutionise delivery and ride-sharing industries.

By Felix Page, Autocar UK calendar 27 Feb 2019 Views icon5816 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Swiss company Rinspeed has revealed a smaller version of its 2017 self-driving Snap concept, which previews the firm’s plans for an autonomous shuttle network. 

The body of the Microsnap, which is a similar size to the Renault Twizy, can be separated entirely from the skateboard-style chassis on which it is mounted, allowing an automated distribution centre to quickly unload and reload delivery vehicles. 

Shown also in two-seater ‘Robo-Unit’ form, the Microsnap could, says Rinspeed, carry passengers “comfortably and efficiently on the shortest route to their destination”.

Company boss Frank M. Rinderknecht said: “Customers want to be supplied more and more promptly and many passengers do not want to share taxis that take time-consuming detours”. 

The modular construction and easy disassembly of the Snap and Microsnap vehicles allow for the replacement of just serviceable parts, rather than the whole vehicle, making it cheaper to use for companies. 

Using the skateboard architecture, similar to that employed by American start-up Rivian, means the driving body can be recycled separately from the cargo or passenger pod when deemed to be at the end of its service life. 

Propulsion comes courtesy of a 48V Mahle electric motor mated to a 6.1kW battery producing 42lb ft of torque. It is capable of 47mph (75kph) and a range of 59 miles (94km).

A drive-by-wire steering and braking system is connected to a 5G communications service, enabling complete autonomy. 

The interior of the passenger variant is upholstered in leather and equipped with mood lighting, voice-activated controls, a curved 49-inch LED display and a retractable soundproof divider.

The news comes as Rinspeed announces an array of new engineering and financial partners. Among others, Hankook have agreed to provide tyres to the Snap project, while German manufacturer Borbet will supply the wheels. 

Rinspeed is one of many car makers preparing for a future that includes autonomous driving. Earlier this week, Seat revealed its two-seater Minimo which will offer Level 4 autonomy in production form, and Bosch unveiled a four-seater self-driving shuttle at the Consumer Electronics Show last year. 

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