Swiss company Rinspeed has restently demonstrated new versions of the "Snap" and the "microSNAP", vehicles whose chassis and bodies go their own ways. With the revolutionary separation of the two vehicle components, Rinspeed confronts the increasingly diverging life cycles of hardware and software. And by doing so, creates a sustainable foundation for the transport of people and goods in the world of tomorrow.
Modular vehicles can help solve a majority of the problems posed by modern mobility that arise as the result of new IT technologies such as autonomous driving and of traffic congestion and the associated inefficiency and air pollution. Due to the flexible use of different vehicle bodies, these vehicles not only reduce the number of expensive and systemically short-lived automated vehicles, they also satisfy - depending on the time of day and current needs - the different transport requirements of people and goods. For more information see the IDTechEx report on Autonomous Cars and Robotaxis 2020-2040: Players, Technologies and Market Forecast.
Thanks to the unique swapping system - inspired by aviation, and tried and tested there around the world in all weather conditions - entirely new applications become possible. Among other things, the service now comes to the customer quickly and simply, regardless where he or she may be at the time - at home or at work. This can be customer-accessible parcel stations that are dropped off in the customer's neighborhood for a certain period. Even combinations with a "corner health food shop" are conceivable. Limited business hours, long drives and the endless and unpopular courier vans are thus things of the past. Additionally: no more unattended packages, no more thefts and failed delivery attempts - and no more associated pollution and traffic burden.
Because the batteries are split up between the "Pod" (vehicle body) and the "Skateboard" (chassis), the vehicle does not need to be parked for charging. The charging process takes place while cleaning or loading the "Pod." The Swiss drivers of innovation refer to this as "Hot Swap", the swapping of the vehicle bodies including the batteries in a matter of seconds - the vehicle is ready to go almost as quickly as a racecar after a pit stop.
The unique "MetroSnap" concept, which fuses together smart city, supply chain and passenger transport, is meeting with very strong interest in the industry even before its actual premiere. Rinspeed boss Frank M. Rinderknecht says: "People desire ever more convenience and simplicity in their lives, and we want to make this possible with our innovative transport solutions."
Rinspeed's 26th concept car was designed by Swiss company 4erC and constructed and realized technically at Esoro. When it comes to electric mobility, special attention is on the batteries. The heat conducting Keba-blend/TC plastics from Barlog Group based in the German town of Overath ensure optimized battery cooling. The 'Clean Energy Pack,' the modular and scalable battery system of the "MetroSnap" skateboard, comes from Clean Energy Global based in Berlin. Thermal management specialist Eberspächer controls the temperature in the "Pax Pod" with its heating and cooling solutions by app and provides powerful heated and refrigerated containers for the "Cargo Pod" - both with autonomous power supply thanks to accumulators. A clever interface/plug-in connector from Harting ensures the transfer of data, signals and power as soon as "Pod" and vehicle body are interlocked.
Various partners contribute the digital services for the "MetroSnap." MHP focuses on the intelligent mobility ecosystem for automated multimodal transport solutions. SAP provides a digital platform, which orchestrates and optimizes future mobility concepts and transportation through data analysis, machine learning and the IoT. EY ensures the automated use-based settlement of transactions between platform participants as well as transparency on and trust in the supply chains with solutions based on blockchain technology. ESG Mobility focuses on smart connectivity apps, a fleet management system supported by AI, and on the development of the electronics architecture for swappable vehicle components.
When it comes to easy, fast and secure payment and its processing, Wirecard from Aschheim comes into play. Thanks to state-of-the-art palm vein recognition, the access system is considered to provide ultimate security. Zürich Insurance Group is thinking intensively about new business models of the digital future. They include time- and use-dependent models for insurance premiums as well as insurance coverage as a service model.
Harman is actively helping to shape the transformation of mobility with innovative user experiences. The focus of the advanced digital cockpit solutions is on greater safety and comfort as well as on productivity and entertainment.
Rinspeed has been relying on its coalition partner Strähle+Hess for materials. The knitted fabric used in the vehicle seat was manufactured from recycled PES. Stratasys from Rheinmünster supplies innovative single-operation 3D printing on various materials for interior and exterior components. For more information see the IDTechEx report on 3D Printing Materials 2019-2029: Technology and Market Analysis.
Ibeo Automotive Systems, a leader in laser scanner sensors for the automotive field, with its Lidar sensors ensures that obstacles and people are detected early and correctly - while the vehicle is moving and during the "Pod" swap - and that the "MetroSnap" is traveling the roads safely in autonomous mode.
The lighting technology comes from Osram. The exterior lights - for example the digital license plate - are used to communicate with other road users. In addition to no-dazzle high beams, the micro-pixel LED Eviyos also make it possible to project warning symbols onto the road. The interior lights are adapted to the mood of the driver with the help of health tracking functions. With regard to the headlights of the MetroSnap, Rinspeed relies on LED technology as well as on the innovative product solutions from Prettl Lighting & Interior based in Pfullingen, which also make the visual messaging with other road users possible.
Source and top image: Rinspeed
Learn more at the next leading event on the topic: 3D Printing & 3D Electronics Europe 2020 on 13 - 14 May 2020 at Estrel Convention Center, Berlin, Germany hosted by IDTechEx.