Drone-equipped concept

Drone-equipped concept

Dec 18, 2015



Have you ever wanted a self-driving plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that has its own remote-controlled drone, a dancefloor mounted on the boot lid, a Swiss clock on the dash and the ability to pay tips by swiping the exterior mirror?

No? Well, what’s wrong with you?! Surely that’s everyone’s dream, right?

It’s clearly one of the (fevered) dreams of Frank M. Rinderknecht, founder of Swiss-based lunatic asylum-come-car manufacturer Rinspeed. This outfit has created some wild and wacky machines for the Geneva Motor Show each year, but 2016’s entrant goes a step further into the realms of the truly insane.

This is the Rinspeed ?tos, which – as you can probably determine if you squint at it for long enough – is very loosely based on BMW’s i8. But there the similarities between the Rinspeed and the BMW end. Building on the Budii Concept shown at Geneva 2015, the ?tos is a fully autonomous car equipped with eight external HD cameras, meaning it can drive itself.

In turn, this means the ZF TRW steering wheel can be folded away into the dashboard when not required. Which leaves the Swiss clock sitting top and centre of the console as the main focus of attraction. That’s right, it has a large(ish) Swiss clock placed in the middle of the windscreen.

It gets better. On the back of the car – and made of the same light, thin and tough ‘Gorilla’ glass used on modern smartphones – is a landing pad for the on-board DJI flying drone the ?tos comes with as standard. The pad features 12,000 LEDs that can display pretty much whatever you want, including the ability to light it up like a dancefloor. The drone, meanwhile, can either pop off to the shops and pick things up for you ahead of schedule (Rinspeed suggests ‘a bouquet of flowers for the significant other ordered on the way home’) or fly way above the car and film it on your favourite roads, streaming your journey live to friends. If you’ve got any.

Finally, aside from a Skynet’s worth of connectivity functions, the ?tos is permanently hooked up to the Swiss stock exchange, allowing for secure transactions to be conducted ‘on the go’. This includes paying small amounts (this is where the ‘tips’ bit comes in) by just swiping the exterior mirror. Crikey, you wouldn’t want to accidently tip the waitress a couple of grand at the McDonald’s drive-thru by idly swatting a fly from your door mirror…

Anyway, this car is about as likely to go into production as a fully functioning DeLorean time machine is, so for now it is merely a show-stand superstar. Want to see the lunacy up close and personal? The Rinspeed ?tos has its world debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, before a European debut on its home turf at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Make sure you’ve taken a goodly quantity of mind-altering substances before viewing it, though; otherwise it will make absolutely no sense at all.