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Car and Driver: Rinspeed Etos Is an Autonomous i8 with Its Own Drone


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-It was only a matter of time before the big tuner companies started to create their own takes on the autonomous car. We figured it would probably be shortly after self-driving vehicles actually hit the streets, but Swiss fettler Rinspeed decided that a mere detail like the not-quite-readiness of the technology wasn’t going to slow it down. So it’s bringing a self-driving BMW i8 concept to the Consumer Electronics Show next month. The Rinspeed Etos, as it’s known, has both a fold-away steering wheel that stows itself invisibly when not needed and, because 2016, its own drone.


We’re told that this is the personal project of Rinspeed supremo Frank M. Rinderknecht, and it’s fair to say that the official release—which we suspect the car may have translated itself—doesn’t shy away from the temptation to sing the boss’s praises: “As always the Swiss mastermind approaches the mega topic of ‘self-driving cars’ primarily from the perspective of the driver and the occupants,” it says, “and as always, he garnishes his concept with a host of inspiring and emotionally appealing highlights.”




There are plenty of these. The Etos features a steering wheel that motors itself away into the dashboard when not in use, twin 21.5-inch curved display monitors, a camera system with virtual mirrors that only activate when a driver looks at them, active eye-tracking to monitor what the driver has seen and what he or she has missed, and even a curb cam to help end the scourge of curb rash. We also like the idea of active cell-phone-signal monitoring, which warns occupants how long they have to finish a conversation before entering a known dead zone. There’s also a mechanical clock on the dashboard inside a rotating housing that moves to wind the mechanism.


The drone is where it gets really, well, Rinspeed. This has a landing platform at the back of the car that includes 12,000 LEDs, allowing it to double as “an electronic message board or a visual dance floor.” Of the drone, the release says, “it can quickly pick up a bouquet of flowers for the significant other ordered on the way home. And the little flyer is a lot of fun when it acts like a UFO, shooting a selfie of the ride in the Etos on your local favorite route and streaming it live to friends. Heads up: that little thing has an extremely high addiction and envy factor!”


There’s no mention of mechanical changes, or indeed whether the Etos can move under its own power. It will be on display at CES as part of the Harman event at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, it will make its auto-show debut at Geneva in March.




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