Rinspeed Etos: the self-driving supercar with its own on-board drone

Published: 17 December 2015

► Rinspeed’s BMW i8-based concept car
► Includes fold-away 'wheel; will take selfies
► On show at CES and Geneva 2016

Here’s the latest in a long line of leftfield concept cars from Swiss automotive consultancy Rinspeed. Based on a BMW i8, the Rinspeed Etos is a technology-packed showcase, crammed with everything from autonomous driving capability to an onboard drone that can take selfies of the driver at the wheel. Yes, really.

It made its debut at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January, and is on display again at the Geneva motor show.

A self-driving supercar

A little like 2015’s Rinspeed Budii concept, the Etos has a folding and retracting steering wheel, which stows itself into the dashboard when the car’s in autopilot mode, so there’s more space for reading a book or wielding a laptop.

Two adjustable curved widescreen monitors make up the instrument panel, with displays controlled by a combination of voice, gesture, touch or good old fashioned buttons. Naturally, they’re internet connected, with apps for navigation, phone calls, finding parking spaces and petrol stations, music, videos and, inevitably, social media.

There’s nothing as old-hat as mirrors on the Etos. Instead, eight HD cameras on the exterior monitor its surroundings, creating 180-degree panoramic views in front and behind claimed to eliminate blind-spots. The cameras can automatically detect and track pedestrians, and warn the driver if they’re about to bump into one.

You mentioned an on-board drone?

Yes… The Etos carries its own autonomous mini-UFO, taking off from a glass platform above the engine cover. Why? Over to an extract from Rinspeed’s press release:

‘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 Etos on your local favorite route and streaming it live to friends. Heads up: that little thing has an extremely high addiction and envy factor!’

Erm, quite.

In years past, Rinspeed’s created show cars as madcap as the amphibious Lotus-based Squba (which CAR drove in 2009 – read about it here) and the shape-shifting iChange. 2015’s autonomous Budii city car was in danger of being almost sensible; now, with a selfie-taking drone-equipped supercar, it’s somehow reassuring to know the craziness is well and truly back for 2016.

Read more of CAR’s 2016 Geneva motor show coverage here

Click here for CAR’s A-Z guide to the 2016 Geneva motor show

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ

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