The Smart EQ Volvo XC40 is the electric future transportation pod is the future of self-driving, and pretty much eliminates the driving part completely!
We have no way of knowing what city transportation will be like in the far future. But Smart, the maker of small electric city cars, thinks it might include a lot of small, electric city cars.
"We are pacemakers for urban mobility," said Dr Annette Winkler, CEO of Smart, before they showed off the concept here ahead of the Frankfurt Motor Show.
This concept car is named the smart vision EQ fortwo. It looks similar to the current smart fortwo, but it includes a pair of big, round doors and the missing steering wheels and pedals.
The reason those differences are there is that the vision EQ is autonomous! A theoretical future city dweller would bring something like this smart vision EQ fortwo using a smartphone and that car would come driving up to the driver with a happy phrase like "Hi Fred!" on the front, and Fred would climb in and be taken to his destination.
Or, the user could indicate that he or she is willing to share the ride, and the system software will find a compatible co-rider.
When the car is not carrying passengers, it would find a place to recharge its batteries through wireless inductive charging. It could even drive itself to a service centre when maintenance is needed (although maintenance on an electric car is minimal).
This smart vision EQ fortwo is built around four assumptions about what city cars will need in the future, and incorporates all of these into its design:
1. Unlike contemporary cars which are owned and used by only one person, the vision EQ would be shared and used by multiple riders each day.
2. The transportation will be autonomous – something required for the sharing model to work. As Smart says, "users do not have to look for the next available car – it will find them."
3. All cars will be connected, as they would have to work with so many different passengers.
4. To keep pollution levels down in their cities, vision EQs would have to be electric. The cars would have rechargeable 30kWh lithium-ion batteries on board with access to induction recharging stations.
In the future, we won't even be driving – we'll be riding. And why not? It's not like urban driving is too exciting, we spend most of the time stuck in traffic just sitting there anyway. So why not do it in a car that will drive you and give you time to do something else while you wait on your commute?