rinspeed-budiiThe Swiss think tank and mobility lab Rinspeed is noted for its quirky and innovative takes on future mobility. Its latest effort, the trans-urban SUV Budii concept, does not disappoint. Based on BMW’s electric i3, riding on 19-inch Bobert alloys and clothed in bright anthracite paint with a terrain-mapping laser scanner atop its roof, Budii seeks to redefine human-machine interaction as it explores the future world of autonomous driving.

According to Rinspeed, a new generation of self-driving cars will do as we do, learning every day and getting better at mastering the array of complex challenges involved in the art of driving. By assimilating lessons learned from its daily drive experiences, interaction with other vehicles on its routes, and information from its surroundings, Budii will evolve to become a cognitive and intuitive autopilot…a sort of proactive companion. Or so Rinspeed imagines.

rinspeed-hands-free-drivingOne of the signature elements in the Budii concept is a 7-axis robotic arm that repositions the steering wheel from driver to front passenger as desired. During automated driving it can park the steering wheel in the center so it’s out of the way, or even position the steering wheel as a handy table. Removable plexi worktables are also part of the package to enable work or doodling during an automated drive.

Refreshingly candid in the face of ever-optimistic and simplistic perspectives on automated driving, Rinspeed head Frank Rinderknecht shares that while autonomous driving will offer the opportunity to reduce traffic accidents and make traffic more people-friendly, even the best technology will not be perfect and that’s something we will have to accept. His take is that we should develop a healthy, but not blind, trust in the new capabilities of self-driving hardware and software being developed for the cars of the future.