Rinspeed's Σtos is a self-driving BMW i8 with its own helper drone
This is the dawn of a new era, one that I'm calling BSCD (before sports car drones). That's because on Tuesday Swiss carmaker Rinspeed fully unveiled the Σtos, a BMW i8-based self-driving plug-in hybrid sport car complete with — you guessed it — its own helper drone.
We saw a teaser of this car back in October. Then, however, details — along with images — were slim. Now, we've been offered a glut of specs, descriptors, pictures and the above video.
Starting with a BMW i8, the Rinspeed designers have added their own body, wheels, drone and landing pad, and — of course — completely reworked the interior. The Σtos is powered by a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder gasoline engine and three electric motors, which altogether power all four wheels. At full tilt, the bright yellow sports car will do 0 to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds.
As a next-generation eco-friendly, all-wheel drive sports coupe, the Σtos can be driven by the driver or allowed to drive itself. When in self-driving mode, the steering wheel folds away into the dash, allowing the driver to, as Rinspeed puts it, read a book. Underscoring that idea, designers have even added a cubby in the dash for books.
When not in the mood for literature, the occupants are privy to not one but two 21.5-inch curved, ultra HD screens. When not used for entertainment, the screens are tied into the eight HD cameras strewn throughout the exterior of the Σtos. Stitched together, the cameras project a 180-degree view in the front or the rear on the in-car screens.
If the driver wants to make a video call from on the road, he or she simply looks at the Patravi Traveltec clock from Swiss Manufacture Carl F. Bucherer mounted on the center dash (yes, it's just a wrist watch strapped to the dash). The mechanical timepiece has also been fitted with a digital camera, which pivots to face either the driver or passenger for a video chat.
When navigating through town, the screens show a realistic 3D rendering of the surroundings, including buildings and landmarks. And inner-city commuting is extremely efficient in the Σtos thanks to its "E-Horizon" system that tethers into the stoplight network and calculates the ideal speed at which to hit every green in town.
If the driver gets sidetracked while driving through the city, the Σtos has a "gaze tracking" system that knows where and at what the driver is looking all the time, monitoring what he or she is seeing or missing. It can call up information accordingly to expand the experience.
Finally, we come to the pièce de résistance: the Σtos' DJI helper drone. When not in use, the drone lives on a landing pad located on the back of the car. More than a drone resting place, the landing pad is fitted with 12,000 individually controlled LEDs that can light up as a message board or even as a groovy dance floor.