Apple of my i... Car?

There is something intriguing about the rumors that Apple is working on a car itself. Will it be the type of car that people have grown accustomed to, stylish, with just a lot more of the connectivity stuff Silicon Valley is famous for? Or will Apple revolutionize the car the same way it did with the mobile phone? True to two Steve Jobs motto's  "be a maverick, be an innovator" and "build something better that no competitor has got".  

Anything that says 'Silicon Valley' is being hyped into multi-billion dollar ventures. But as long as we can't beam me up, Scotty from A to B like in Star Trek, new 'automotive formats' can be the next big thing (too). We see Tesla and Google nibble at the car industry. A taste of things to come?  Click on pictures and blue-printed words for more 'perspective'. 

There's more to people being mobile than having cars roll off the assembly line, hoping they'll sell. Cars still represent the biggest purchase and single expense for most of us. There isn't a consumer product that has so much impact. On our living environment, air quality, health, matters such as energy policy, infrastructure, urban planning. Technology challenges us to rethink the car. That hasn't changed much. Not really. With a width equal to the driver's length, the car squeezes itself through traffic. Weighing 20-30 times more than the driver, basically all resources go into moving around the 'device' that is supposed to transport who's driving, usually the only occupant. Tesla wants to get rid of the whole fossil fuel thing, at the cost of putting on even more weight, and width.

Google's scope is different. In the future all (routine) trips will take place in robo-driven vehicles.** Noticed how unassuming, bland-looking the Google robo car turned out to be? I am sure nobody would mind sharing one with other people. It would be a major step towards freeing up resources. Noticed how small it is? When the 'driver' has a feel for the outer dimensions, as opposed to driving a big SUV, he/she will feel more at ease. There's less surface area, less risk to run into other road users, and vice versa. But what about fun? 

Robo-drive during routine trips, take over the controls when you feel like it - iPhone On Wheels *** offers both. Not just any car with an on/off-switch. For starters, it is sleek enough for the reassuring robo-drive automakers have in mind, split-lane use of freeways included. Think of it as a motor scooter with the side-car seating fully integrated, yet way safer and more comfortable than a similarly sized car. This three-seater looks and feels different. When robo-drive isn't that great, for whatever reason, you simply switch to 'manual'. 

Any automaker should ask itself: what has 'the new one' to offer that draws the attention, that makes people switch? What about a new take on driving, playful, yet practical, a smaller eco-footprint (CAFE), cost saving and distinctive looks? Utilitarian enough to be used in a car/ride-share capacity, 'iPhone On Wheels' has auto~mobile 2.0 written all over it.****

* To all those automotive engineers I would like to say that new technology, such as robo-drive, brings about the need for a true Next-Gen vehicle. Time to think out of the (familiar car) box. To the software and systems developers etc. I would like say that there is no better display of new technologies than a platform that will bring them all together, a new vehicle the media and the people will notice. A note on propulsion. This vehicle's minimal weight and drag means a small motor will do. If propelled electrically (author has a neutral stand on this), a smaller battery pack will suffice, to still have a decent performance and/or range and acceptable charging times.

**  Automakers tend to incorporate driverless technology gradually, not to endanger their business model. Also for legislative reasons. With Google/Uber it is exactly the opposite. It sees the car for what it is: a transportation mode - to be integrated in its overall strategy of becoming a (perhaps even the) main provider in personal mobility and connectivity, with car ownership and public transport in its (long-term) sights. The last picture (the guy behind the steering wheel) says it all though. The prospect is that we will stay responsible for a very long time anyway. Dozing off in autonomous-driven cars is out of the question. What better to involve the person behind the steering wheel than to offer a new take on driving? It's why we game, not some robot. Besides, legislative front runner the State of California will not allow robo-cars without a steering wheel.

**** As a matter of fact, automotive experts already acknowledged it as a viable alternative, and doable to engineer. It received recognition by a distinguished jury at NAIAS. Auctor intellectualis (and IP holder) Ralph Panhuyzen was involved with the scientific study on car mobility (ISBN-13: 978-90-442-0015-7) in the Netherlands (one of the most densely populated countries in the world) which was held under the auspices of the NWO, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. NB: this presentation is put together for assessment and publicity purposes only. Unauthorized use forbidden. The New Isetta aka Smart ForThree is not an open source project, and formally OHIM registered. If in doubt about the semantics of what is "authorized" (literally: of, by or from the author) and what is not (presenting or using what has been created by someone else as if it were yours) consult a legal expert. 

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