Driverless car Budii was a magnet for the crowds at CODE_n, providing a rare opportunity to see what the autonomous vehicles of tomorrow might look like.
While many manufacturers are still at the drawing board stage with such cars, Swiss ideas factory Rinspeed has already given concrete form to its concepts. Budii, developed with the support of EY, is a self-driving, electric-powered Sport Utility Vehicle with a robotic arm that hands the steering wheel to the human driver or front passenger as desired. Its software compiles data from its surroundings, its own “experiences” and those of other vehicles along its route in order to make intelligent and intuitive decisions.
Seeing such a vehicle “in the flesh” at CODE_n brought to life many of the practical, social and ethical issues associated with autonomous driving. And this, said Peter Fuss, EY Senior Advisory Partner Automotive for Germany, Switzerland and Austria, is precisely its role.
He explained that EY is using Budii to bring automotive and non-automotive partners together to debate the future of mobility and ask how the changing human–machine relationship will affect supply chains and business models. “It really works: it’s a different way to showcase capabilities and spark ideas,” he said. “EY is not the design company for the car, but we are the design company for thoughts.”
The robots are coming
Rinspeed CEO Frank M. Rinderknecht said that our society is at the threshold of mass automation and robotics, with robots set to become commonplace in every aspect of our lives within 5 to 10 years. “To our grandchildren, it will be inconceivable that human beings could have flown our planes,” he said. “Some drivers say they will never let go of the steering wheel, but that’s exactly what you do when you go on a train or use a chauffeur. Today, a chauffeur can be bits and bytes. Our job, with partners such as EY, is to make that future visible and tangible.”
For more information please also visit the EY CODE_n insights page.