Concept cars are designed to give you a tangible experience of what the world of tomorrow will be like. And, with the rapid development of technology, it’s no longer the case that we’ll have to wait for decades before we actually get the opportunity to own these machines of the future.
While cars like the Aston Martin Valkyrie (the closest street-legal experience you’ll get to a race car) are undeniably cool, not all concept vehicles are in its league. On a scale of one to ‘what we’re they thinking?’, the following vehicles are definitely pushing the quirky end of the spectrum.
Honda NeuV and Toyota Concept-i: the cars that want to know you
Toyota’s Concept-i comes with an AI assistant, named Yui, who gets to know you over the course of your… relationship? Toyota reckon Yui can understand human emotions and learn your unique patterns and attitudes over time. Yui greets you as you approach the car and chats to you throughout the drive. She also shares the controls with you; capable of taking over completely herself or letting you have the wheel. Sound familiar?
Honda has a similar ’emotionally intelligent’ bot in charge of its semi-autonomous, electric concept vehicle, NeuV. They also include a ride-sharing concept in the design which allows the intelligent car to take off and do its own thing whenever you’re not using it. So you can literally have a car that has a day job and earns you money while its not transporting you around.
Here’s hoping the idea of equipping artificial intelligence with emotional understanding, unlimited access to data, and connectivity with all the other AI in the world, doesn’t backfire on us Space Odyssey style.
Rinspeed Oasis: the car for future hipsters
From Switzerland—the country that brought you rugged, mountain climbing, spider excavators—comes the most hipster concept car ever made.
Taking Honda’s autonomous ride sharing idea a step further, Swiss company, Rinspeed, have come up with their own concept car that turns it into a (slightly creepy) kind of Uber-Tinder. With a portable garden.
The idea of the Oasis is for it to be a lounge room on wheels that drives you around while you chill, browse Facebook, watch movies, make money from ride-sharing, and possibly have an on-the-road date with your passenger. This is the car those ‘damn kids’ will be driving when we’re all ‘old enough to know better.’
VW’s re-imagined Kombi: the car for future hippies
Volkswagen has re-invented its classic old Kombi van and, while the look is reminiscent of the past, it’s so different even VW gave it a whole new name: the I.D Buzz. While it’s not yet clear when the new bus will go into production (although we have heard whisperings 2022 might be the year), Chairman of the VDub board, Herbert Diess has confirmed its creation is imminent. In an interview with Auto Express, Diess explained the I.D Buzz was intended to:
“transfers a Microbus feeling into the future.”
Head honcho in the VDub design department, Oliver Stefani, added:
“We would like to bring this back because it fits so well to what the brand stands for: it’s emotional, it has functionality, it makes your life easier.”
With an odd little spinning garden gnome, pause symbol on the brakes and play symbol on the accelerator, the I.D Buzz certainly has personality of its own. However, it also fits in with the pack on a number of features; not the least of which being its autonomous capabilities.
The I.D. Buzz uses this feature to its advantage, with multi-adjustable seating that swivels around to create the kind of lounge style setup that usually requires a lot of unbolting and sacrificing of passenger capacity. Because the car doesn’t really need a human driver, even the driver’s seat has 180 degrees of swivel action, giving the bus unprecedented space-creating capabilities.
While old Kombis housed their engines in the back, the I.D. Buzz keeps its power source beneath the floor. This leaves the front and back cavities for storage space which, in turn, frees up more room in the cabin.
While the 2022 release date is only a rumour, Volkswagen have announced plans to have an entire range of autonomous electric vehicles with at least a million sold by 2025.