A regular purveyor of intriguing one-offs at the annual Geneva Auto Show, Frank M. Rinderknecht's Rinspeed operation has partnered with infotainment expert Harman International to create its latest exercise in possibility thinking: the Rinspeed microMAX Concept. Swiss innovator Rinderknecht claims this all-electric urban mobility module is designed to merge public and private transportation in a uniquely enlightened, sustainable and "always-on" package. He defines it as a "networked swarm car," the name being inspired by Frank Schätzing's novel "The Swarm," that focuses on the synergistic potential of intelligent collectives.

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Powered by a conventional forklift drive system, occupying a footprint roughly the size of a Mini Cooper and standing just over 7.2 feet tall, microMAX Concept offers room for a driver and three passengers plus additional space to carry bulky items like strollers or shopping carts. A good deal of the microMAX Concept's  accommodating nature comes from space-saving semi-upright seats that hold occupants in place using a custom seatbelt arrangement developed by TRW. Complementing its large greenhouse filled with lightweight Plexiglass window panels and upscale fabrics that create a lounge-like character, this engaging people pleaser also boasts crowd-pleasing amenities like a coffeemaker and refrigerator in addition to its constant connectivity.

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Key to the microMax Concept's "urbanSWARM" mentality is a multi-functional command center developed by Harman that features a multi-dimensional HMI (Human Machine Interface) and incorporates a custom app that takes advantage of Cloud-based technology to optimize the overall utility of the individual microMAX as well as all of the other vehicle in the associated swarm. By accessing a comprehensive data base of routes, destinations, travel speeds and passenger occupancy of the swarm set, it can calculate potential ride opportunities in real time creating an efficient, flexible and convenient transport system. As with many of his other innovative transportation solutions, Rinderknecht envisions a broad range of other potential specialized, but equally sustainable, uses for the microMax, including everything from mail delivery to local courier duties to serving as light-duty cargo haulers.


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