Autonomous Driving

Oliver Bendel, machine ethicist, and Frank M. Rinderknecht, automotive visionary, on the future of automobiles, the challenges on the road to that future, fun gadgetry and harebrained inventions.

Mr. Rinderknecht invents automobiles that are capable of driving on and underwater. Together with SIX, he recently presented a car that can pay the bill in a drive-in restaurant by itself and can even feed parking meters on its own. What do you make of that sort of thing, Mr. Bendel?

Oliver Bendel: I think it’s great to play with the idea. Too many car companies take everything far too seriously and thus miss the heart of the matter. They are stubborn and thus do not conceive of anything genuinely new. Gadgetry is exactly what’s called for, regardless of how crazy it is.

Frank M. Rinderknecht:  And I actually like to go crazy – I think it’s wonderful. The German word for “crazy” comes from the verb root “verrücken,” which means nothing more than “to move.” And that’s exactly my aim. By the way, that car that pays my parking fees isn’t a gimmick – I’m serious about it. How often have I wished that my car would deal with inconveniences like paying a parking lot ticket by itself? The Etos, the concept car that I built along with the help of SIX, proves that this would already be eminently doable today.

Where do you get all of the ideas that enable you to bring out world-debut concept cars year after year?

Frank M. Rinderknecht:  Most of it is teamwork. Brainstorming in teams of three or four often yields better ideas than when I wrack my brain on my own. And in the end it’s never about who came up with the idea; what matters is that it was we who hatched it.