Swiss company Rinspeed introduced Snap at CES 2018—a vehicle in which the chassis (Skateboards) and bodies (Pods) can be swapped out at any time. For CES 2019, the company has shrunk the Snap into the microSNAP, which has the dimensions of a Renault Twizy, and the company is demonstrating a fully automated robot station that joins and separates chassis and bodies autonomously.

The concept behind Snap and microSNAP is the same, according to the company: While the bodies last as long as a car does today, the chassis contains all the components that are subject to wear and aging, such as the computer technology for autonomous driving. Skateboards and Pods are only temporary companions for brief periods. Various types of bodies use whatever skateboards are currently available. The skateboards are recycled after a few years, because they will have reached the end of their service life. In this way they avoid an expensive and complicated hardware update.

The concept car from Rinspeed was designed at Swiss company 4erC and constructed at Esoro, which also handled the technical implementation.

The robotics system and the automated loading aid system come from Kuka in Augsburg. Osram supplied the entire lighting technology, including the digital license plate and a micro-pixel LED. The exterior lights communicate with other road users. The interior lights adapt to the driver’s personal mood with the help of health-tracking functions. For the headlights of the microSNAP, Rinspeed uses the LED technology as well as product solutions from Prettl Lighting & Interior in Pfullingen. The propulsion of the microSNAP is provided by a 48-V traction motor from Mahle.

The connection to the Harman Ignite Cloud platform via 5G telematics ensures the efficient operation of the autonomously driving microSNAP. A host of other connected-car technologies of Harman—including sensor fusion, the Harman Shield Automotive Cybersecurity Suite, and over-the-air updates (OTA)—makes many more things possible. The microSNAP uses multi-stage authentication and instant personalization. It is operated during the trip by giving commands in natural speech. The passengers can use a variety of virtual assistants, including Bixby, Alexa, Cortana, or Siri. The intelligent digital cockpit is able to adapt to the particular passenger automatically. In the case of the compact microSNAP, a curved 49-inch LED screen spanning the entire width of the vehicle provides the visual interaction. Acoustically, the two-seater pod can be divided further into two separate sound zones. This Harman technology allows both passengers to listen to different music or entertainment programs at the same time.

Luxoft contributes its expertise in the development of environment models and software platforms for highly automated driving. As a global software development partner, the company supports Level 2-5 projects with its own development teams and technologies for ground truth, modeling, and validation. Bamboo Apps from Tallinn, Estonia, created connected-car apps and the UX/UI design for the human-machine interface (HMI).

A co-innovation team coordinates the digital services for the microSNAP: MHP focuses on the intelligent mobility ecosystem for automated intermodal transport solutions, while SAP employs a software platform, which optimizes transportation through data analysis, machine learning and the IoT. Finally, EY Advisory makes automated use-based transaction settling among the ecosystem participants possible with its Tesseract mobility platform based on blockchain technology.

U.S. company Gentex contributed the iris scanner for occupant recognition, the interior cabin monitoring system, and dimmable glass window elements in the doors. The same elements can also be found in the Boeing Dreamliner. The sensors from Ibeo Automotive Systems ensure that obstacles and people on the road are detected early and accurately. The intelligent antenna from NXP ensures secure linking to the outside world for software updates, V2X communication, and infotainment. The BlueBox is the brain for automated driving; the GreenBox ensures the energy efficiency.

The microSNAP is equipped with a joysteer drive-by-wire system from Swiss company Bozzio. Redundant steering and braking systems ensure safety. The security of the transfer of data and information was verified by Dekra and is fed into the vehicle grid via quick-charging cable with high-voltage technology from the Harting Company, based in Espelkamp in East Westphalia. Esslingen-based thermal management specialist Eberspächer controls the temperature in the people pods with its climate hardware and provides the suitable containers with heating and cooling units for the cargo pods—in both cases with integrated connectivity solutions and always with independent energy supply.

The occupants make themselves comfortable on automotive leather from Bader in Göppingen, Germany. Lear developed the ProActive Comfort intelligent seat solution, designed for comfort, wellness, and adaptability to individual passenger needs; and BioBridge, a smart, non-intrusive, biosensing technology to detect stress and drowsiness, helping prevent driver distraction and promoting safety.

HFM specializes in functional safety systems, E/E architectures, and user-centric design methods by means of virtual prototyping. At the heart of the company’s developments are always the relevant requirements for homologation and type approval for the future of autonomous driving.

The world premiere will take place in Las Vegas on January 7, 2019 at the Harman venue at the Hard Rock Hotel during CES 2019. In spring 2019, the microSNAP will be presented at the Geneva Motor Show.