(ExtremeTech) — Here’s the first advance look at cars to be unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show in two weeks. This is the Smart Vision EQ fortwo. It’s autonomous and can be shared solo, or by a couple or two individuals going the same way. EQ is a new Daimler product and technology brand.
Parent Daimler Corp. says, “The show car is the first vehicle from the Daimler Group to take the logical step [emphasis added – Ed.] of dispensing with a steering wheel and pedals.” Logical today, but maybe not to Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz back in 1885.
Read the Signs
The EQ is a bubble-like Smart car with two seats, luggage room, electric motor, and autonomous drive. It would be used for ride-hailing or car-sharing. Daimler notes that already its Car2go subsidiary has a car hired every 1.4 seconds, and the car-sharing business will quadruple by 2025.
The cars are individualized to help riders determine which rideshare belongs to which person. The front sign is 44 inches wide. Films on the door side can also provide messaging. With unoccupied cars, the signage could show “weather, news, or the time,” Daimler says. We’re betting ads would be in the mix, too.
“The Smart vision EQ fortwo is our vision of future urban mobility,” said Smart CEO Annette Winkler. “It is the most radical car sharing concept car of all: fully autonomous, with maximum communication capabilities, friendly, comprehensively personalisable and, of course, electric.”
Smart EQ fortwo specs
Like other Smart cars, this one is small: 106 inches long, 68 inches wide, 60 inches high. “The exterior is like a piece of jewellery with a receptacle symbolically encircling a precious pearl,” Daimler says. “With the ‘one-and-a-half box’ design, the pronounced, powerful wheel arches and the short overhangs at the front and rear, the proportions are typically Smart.”
The energy storage comes from a lithium ion battery with a capacity of 30 kWh. The car can be charged via a plug or inductive coupler. When it’s between rideshares (or low on power), it seeks out an available inductive charger that doesn’t need human help.
Multiple Smart EQ cars can act as a joint “swarm battery,” meaning in times of high energy demand, a car already fully charged could pass some of its juice onto a car running almost on empty, via the inductive grid. Similar swarm technoolgy would have cars roving the city, or parked at statistically useful locations, waiting for a call.
Since there’s no need for an instrument panel, there’s a 24-inch flat panel display in the car to entertain passengers.
eHarmony, Meet EV Harmony
Finally, for solo riders looking for 1 + 1 sharing, Daimler says:
Possible passengers are suggested on the basis of their saved profiles and current travel plans, and can be accepted or rejected. When two passengers are on board, the large display in the interior shows shared interests such as concerts they have recently attended or sports that they play. The extra time gained as a result of traveling in an autonomous vehicle can be used to chat and interact.
If desired, a folding center armrest separates the passengers. Sounds as if the Smart EQ could play matchmaker as well.