Pininfarina has recently presented a concept car with a mission: to make the trip as enjoyable as the destination. Developed entirely using virtual reality technologies — and existing only in the digital world at the moment — the Pininfarina Theorem concept is a bit of a mental experiment that explores concepts such as the sense of community on board. The high-tech vehicle reimagines the interior space so that occupants can appreciate the scenery during their travels.
Built on a modular, scalable electric skateboard chassis supplied by Benteler, the fully autonomous Theorem concept has no side doors; instead, the back opens up and forward to load passengers. The futuristic vehicle can accommodate up to five passengers in stylish standing seats. Avant-garde and autonomous, the Theorem continuously detects its environment and changes the ambient lighting accordingly. For example, if you were driving near the Colosseum in Italy, you could adopt the color of the landmark.
The narrow cabin and wide body design make the Theorem concept, low tilt, more rigid and light. Occupants enter the car from the rear, with the center section serving as a walkway that illuminates to guide passengers into their seats. These innovative seats can be folded flat and turned into a bench, creating a cocoon-like atmosphere. The car also provides privacy areas where passengers can isolate themselves to rest or watch entertainment. For more privacy, smart rear windows can regulate the amount of light entering from the outside.
The Theorem presents three modes of driving: Autonomy, Drive and Rest. These various modes reconfigure the seating arrangements, the interior ambient lighting and the general mood to match the wishes of the passengers. While the Theorem is a fully autonomous vehicle, the driver can also take control using a pair of joysticks. To prevent the driver from having to take their eyes off the road for extended periods, “smart surfaces” are hidden under interior panels, revealing pop-up buttons with clear icons that only appear when the driver shakes their hand.
The Pininfarina concept uses WayRay’s augmented reality to support advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), navigation and other functions. The software renders content in real time seamlessly and provides a more natural way to visualize information using sharp, vivid, real-world-aligned virtual images. Unlike conventional cars, the Theorem has no physical touch screens and instead uses “smart” glasses to display information.
The windshield and side glass act as a giant 180-degree touch screen and display essential data such as location, weather and traffic at all times. Passengers can interact with the touch screen to browse the web, check email, and more. They can also share their findings with other passengers on board when looking for restaurants, cafes and points of interest. In addition, the car is always connected to tourist websites and can identify landmarks while traveling through different cities.
As an exercise in thinking, the Pininfarina Theorem concept is an interesting exploration of many issues we have seen in other autonomous concept cars: the car as a social space for relaxation, the benefits of augmented reality, the ability to change factor of form of the vehicle if man-controlled driving is only a case of secondary or occasional use. But it is good that it is something more than an anonymous and purely functional pod, like a kind of autonomous device. We hope that this trend will continue in the future as autonomy matures.