Smart Vision EQ Fortwo: Autonomy without the Indignity
Remember the Google car, a.k.a. the Waymo Firefly, that dopey gumdrop-shaped device occupied by simpering passengers and blocking traffic in one of the hapless cities selected to be experimental proving grounds for autonomous driving? The sight of one was enough to make you dismiss the technology altogether and head straight to the Dodge dealer to put down a deposit on a Hellcat.
The Smart Vision EQ Fortwo could make you reconsider. This is the first Daimler concept without a steering wheel (or a joystick); it's a fully autonomous electric car. And it's actually cool.
Visually, it doesn't deviate far from the proportions of a regular Smart Fortwo, and it's similar in size: 106.3 inches long, 67.7 inches wide, 60.4 inches tall, making it 0.2 inch longer and 2.2 inches wider but 0.8 inch shorter than the Fortwo. The large wheels are pushed to the four corners, and while this concept keeps the face of a regular car, Smart has played with the design elements in a creative manner.
There is a "black panel" in place of the grille. This can be used to display messages and symbols, such as when the car approaches passengers to pick them up or when it invites pedestrians to cross the street in front of the car. The head- and taillights can look like a regular car's, or they can assume a humanoid appearance. They don't really need to provide much forward-looking light anymore, because this autonomous vehicle is in the know about its surroundings.
The doors open backward and rotate around the rear axle. They, too, can be used as a display. Inside, the Vision EQ Fortwo is a futuristic pod, with a huge, 24.0-inch display that's flanked by two 4.0-inch displays. To please the PETA crowd (and, presumably, to lower costs), the seats are covered in faux leather, and the two positions can be separated by a center armrest. But since the car allows you to "make contact with other interesting users," as the press release claims, you might prefer to fold the armrest out of the way. The idea is that you'd pick up travel companions by comparing profiles and travel plans online.
Smart doesn't say much about the technology at this point, beyond the fact that the concept is fitted with a 30-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. When not in use, the car can recharge itself, and it also can serve as a buffer in a city's electric power grid. The concept car's existence is confirmation that the EQ sub-brand will stretch beyond Mercedes-Benz and into Smart territory.
While we're not quite ready to give up driving altogether, we're open to the idea of being chauffeured around in this Smart concept after a day in the office or a night on the town. And we hope that some of its design elements will migrate to future regular Smart models as well. But make ours a Brabus.
article from: caranddriver.com