Walking through the North and South buildings of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and trying to take in all of the manufacturer displays can be a daunting task.
There are over 1000 vehicles here of all shapes and sizes spread across 650,000 sq ft.
You get my point.
My advice—take it slow and decide on the exhibits you’d like to see before hand. Autoshow.ca has all you need to know about planning your visit.
One of the more innovative concepts on display and worth mentioning was Rinspeed’s Oasis, an aptly named autonomous car that was rife with clever features. If Rinspeed is not familiar to you, they are a Swiss automobile manufacturer known for bringing to light some of the zaniest concepts around. Pure innovation with a dose of fun and adventure best describes some of these like the Splash and sQuba both vehicles capable of travelling on land and water. Think of them as a think-tank for the automotive industry.
Expansive windows dominate the body, and massive doors invite you into an interior that more closely resembles a modern living room than a typical autonomous car. There is space and light, and it feels airy. “It makes you want to feel free” enthused Rinspeed’s event manager Patrick as he showed us around the vehicle.
The Oasis immediately reminded me of the 2002 Sci-fi/crime thriller Minority report and the concept Lexus 2054 autonomous car that seemed far-fetched then but much closer to reality now. How quickly times change.
There is a garden behind the windshield that furthers the living space theme where one has enough space to grow radishes or Bonsai trees according to Rinspeed. A removable planter with different air circulation modes can distribute the fresh garden air throughout the vehicle.
More like modern Swedish arm-chairs than typical car seats, the two front thrones swivel to allow ease of entry and exit. When in autonomous mode the steering flips over and converts into a keyboard complete with cup holders.
The Oasis’ interface uses a massive curved 5K display designed by Harman. Keeping up with current trends, it is gesture controlled and can be used—in autonomous mode— to watch TV, check your emails or social feeds and control the various other functions of the car.
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In the instances when the road conditions are not favourable for autonomous driving—control can easily be taken back by the driver. Even with all of the current tech and innovations, it is impossible to predict everything a car and driver (passenger?) will encounter on the roads, and “manual” driving controls will likely be around a lot longer than most people think. We have not completely replaced the human part of the equation yet.
Powered by two ZF 40kW electric motors, Rinspeed’s Oasis can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 9.7 seconds on to a top speed of 130km/h. Solar panels on the roof provide juice for all the interior electrics and screens.
Total range is only about 100 km, but the Oasis has an ace up its sleeve. Once battery power is dwindling the car can pull over and summon a robot to deliver a fully charged battery pack, and have you on your way in no time. No searching for charging stations, and having to wait hours to get back on your way.
Expecting a delivery? The Oasis has that covered too, by using it’s innovative Smart Phone app a courier or delivery service can be provided access to the lock box on the back of the vehicle, and have your package delivered autonomously.
The Oasis concept can be part of a ride-sharing network or owned by the consumer. It is versatile and can be used as courier by day and a taxi at night.
While these technologies are not necessarily new, the way they have all been integrated into the Oasis concept is.
The Oasis has added a livability factor into the autonomous car, more so than any other self-driving concept on display, one where the passenger can kick back and relax on the way to their destination.
Now that truly is a breath of fresh air.