Rinspeed never does anything ordinary. The iconic Swiss automobile tuning company has developed a slew of exotic and quixotic concept cars over the years, but none more daring than the Ʃtos concept it is bringing to the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Based on a BMW i8, the Ʃtos has so much high tech autonomous driving firepower, it makes the Tesla Autopilot suite look like a kindergarten exercise by comparison.
Rinspeed head Frank Rinderknecht says, “The digital world will provide the major and above all the disruptive innovations in automotive engineering. That is why nowadays all major car manufacturers and suppliers are present at the CES Consumer Electronics Show.”
The interior of the Ʃtos features twin 21.5 inch wide video screens that respond to voice commands and hand gestures. They can even interpret old fashioned technology like finger touches if necessary. They are the heart and soul of a kickass infotainment system developed by Harmann.
According to a Rinspeed press release, the “Harman Connected Car technology [acts] just like a personal assistant. the system thinks along, is courteous, anticipates needs and on top of that provides perfect entertainment, connectivity and maximum safety. “Destinations, route selection, tourist attractions, refueling, parking, making phone calls, music, videos or personal preferences.
“With every mile, the Σtos gets to know the appointments, wishes and needs of the occupants better and, in a flash, proactively offers up the particular fitting selection options. This drastically reduces the number of distracting manual entries – despite significantly expanded functions. Should it nonetheless be necessary to enter a command, the “Σtos” responds promptly to voice commands, gestures, touch input, controller or the push of a button.”
Who needs a spouse and kids to help with driving when you have Harmann Connected Car, huh? A special disappearing steering wheel created by ZF-TRW retracts into the dashboard when the car is in full autonomous mode. This gives the driver more space to read a book, bake cookies or commune with nature along the way.
Perhaps the zaniest aspect of the Σtos is a dedicated drone that is self stored on its own landing platform located in the rear hatch. Quoting from Rinspeed’s glowing and self congratulatory press release again, “An armada of 12,000 individually controlled LEDs can transform this platform into an electronic message board or a visual dance floor. This technical marvel was designed by Swiss specialist Weidplas, which is also behind the rear window that has been converted into a third brake light and the brilliant seat inlays.
“The drone itself is capable of providing some very useful services. For example, 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 Σtos on your local favorite route and streaming it live to friends. Heads up: that little thing has an extremely high addiction and envy factor!”
If you crave a car with an “extremely high addiction and envy factor”, the Σtos is it. Driving it, you will feel like Lewis Hamilton at a Black Eyed Peas concert, with every eye focused on you. Rolling narcissism, that’s the Rinspeed Σtos. If this car doesn’t feed your ego enough, you may be a prime candidate for psychoanalysis.
Will the Σtos ever make it into production? That’s highly unlikely. Rinspeed concepts are intended to stretch the limits of the what is possible, not what is probable. Having read the press release and looked at all the cool photos, I only have one question: “How do you pronounce Σtos?”