Smart Vi­sion EQ

Vi­sion EQ is fully au­ton­o­mous Of­fers ur­ban range of 155 miles

Auto Express - - Contents - Thomas Geiger

We go for a ride in fu­tur­is­tic self-driv­ing bub­ble car

RE­VEALED at the Frankfurt Mo­tor Show just two months ago, this Vi­sion EQ bub­ble car is Smart’s idea of the fu­ture of ur­ban mo­bil­ity. It has an elec­tric pow­er­train and a fully au­ton­o­mous set-up, and is de­signed to cruise around cities with­out driver in­put. We’ve been to Tokyo to see what it’s like.

The glass door swings open like the front of a giant wash­ing ma­chine. In­side, the white sofa, blue lights and large dig­i­tal dis­play make it feel more like a space­ship than a car, a sen­sa­tion en­hanced by the fact there is no steer­ing wheel or ped­als. This ab­sence of any con­trols makes it a fully au­ton­o­mous Level 5 ve­hi­cle.

The Vi­sion EQ won’t di­rectly make it into pro­duc­tion; it’s more of a pre­view of what we can ex­pect from the brand dur­ing the next decade. One clever piece of tech is the ride-shar­ing el­e­ment. The Smart gives you the op­tion of shar­ing the ve­hi­cle with other peo­ple, while you can in­vite pas­sen­gers nearby us­ing the dig­i­tal dash­board.

In an en­vi­ron­ment as strange and as fu­tur­is­tic as Tokyo, it fits in. The Smart silently whirrs across the lively and noisy area of Ak­i­habara in cen­tre of the city. Then, just when we’re get­ting more and more com­fort­able with the strange sit­u­a­tion, it slowly ap­proaches the side of the road and silently opens its doors. This isn’t be­cause we’ve ar­rived at our fi­nal des­ti­na­tion, but be­cause the in­duc­tively charged bat­tery has be­come de­pleted.

Smart claims the con­cept should be ca­pa­ble of around 250km (155 miles) on a sin­gle charge; in a city with traf­fic as dense as Tokyo’s that seems a rea­son­able fig­ure con­sid­er­ing the size of the com­pany’s cars.

How­ever, an­other ad­van­tage of an au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle such as this is that when empty of pas­sen­gers it can take it­self away to be fully recharged with­out you hav­ing to worry about where to top it up with elec­tric­ity next.

“In an en­vi­ron­ment as strange and fu­tur­is­tic as Tokyo, the Smart fits in”

IN­TE­RIOR Dig­i­tal dash al­lows you to in­vite oth­ers to join you on your jour­ney

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