Gentex Corp. recently provided key technologies for the latest concept vehicle from automotive think tank and car design house Rinspeed, which for nearly 40 years has created designs intended to inspire the transportation industry and promote future mobility systems.
Rinspeed’s latest, called “Snap,” would allow users to summon a vehicle-sized “skateboard” that would dock with personalized passenger “pods” and autonomously drive users to work, shopping, camping or anywhere they wanted to go.
For Snap, Gentex provided unique biometric passenger authentication modules, vehicle-to-home automation control, and dimmable glass sensor shrouds.
The Snap concept vehicle consists of two parts: an autonomously driven chassis, or “skateboard,” that docks with various customizable passenger safety cells, or “pods.” Separating the vehicle into two components allows the autonomous skateboard to operate 24/7, serving multiple customers throughout the day. The chassis are replaced as mechanical components wear out and IT components reach obsolescence.
The more durable and versatile passenger pods would live on and be personalized for commuting, working, deliveries and more. They would be useful even when stationary, serving as mobile offices, campers or secondary living spaces.
The Snap concept is designed to help reduce traffic congestion, enhance overall vehicle lifecycles, and provide a more environmentally friendly mobility model, says Rinspeed.
For Snap, Gentex developed a vehicle-based biometric ID module that authenticates the passengers and delivers customized security, comfort and convenience features. The system consists of a small module that houses near-infrared emitters, an iris-scanning camera and system-level intelligence.
With the passenger identified, the biometric system would allow the vehicle to operate and enable personalization by automatically adjusting seat position, HVAC controls, music favorites, GPS locations and other cabin amenities, according to user-determined presets. The biometric system also could sanction safe, secure access to a host of cloud-based, connected-vehicle services, according to Gentex. For instance, an authenticated iris scan could grant the passenger access to work files and virtual meetings, allow for secure banking transactions and provide added security for in-vehicle trip-related purchases like tolls, vehicle charging and parking.
Gentex’s HomeLink technology, which uses RF and wireless cloud-based connectivity to operate gates, garage doors, security systems, thermostats, home lighting and more, also could be controlled by the biometrics system. Once authenticated, passengers would be able to control all their home automation devices from within the Snap vehicle using the HomeLink Connect app. The biometrics system would provide security and convenience for multiple passengers by activating the unique home automation presets of the vehicle’s various authorized users.
Today’s vehicles are increasingly being outfitted with sensors and cameras for various ADAS features. Autonomous vehicles like Snap will be equipped with cameras, radar, LiDAR and a host of other safety-related sensor systems. It can be a challenge to integrate these into a vehicle in a manner that optimizes performance while maintaining a clean design aesthetic. Gentex dimmable glass panels, or sensor shrouds, darken on-demand or automatically according to sensor function. On Snap, they work to conceal and optimize the operation of forward-facing cameras, optical systems, communication components and the autonomous sensor farm.
Snap will debut at the upcoming CES, running from Jan. 9-12, 2018, in Las Vegas.