The Rinspeed Budii Concept car is creating a driverless stir at this year's Geneva car show. It's an all-electric autonomous vehicle with a difference. Ciara Lee reports.
They're hailed by some to be the future of the auto industry - self-driving cars. But not everyone wants to give up the wheel. At the Geneva motor show this week Swiss thinktank Rinspeed is offering a solution. The Budii concept car. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER CIARA LEE, SAYING: ''This car is taking the concept of sharing the driving to a whole new level. If you fancy having some fun on a winding back country road ... this robotic arm will simply hand back control.'' Radar, lasers and other sensors allow the Budii to operate fully autonomously. Or it can share the burden, spotting dangers and taking control in an emergency. Rinspeed CEO Frank Rinderknecht says it's a necessary step towards a completely driverless future: (SOUNDBITE) (English) RINSPEED CEO, FRANK RINDERKNECHT, SAYING: "Well it's a new technology and we'll start to get used to it. It's like the Internet 20 years (ago), it was also a little bit scary. Today digital natives they don't know anything else but the Internet. So it's a matter of generations, of adaptation to be into that technology. And I'm sure that our grandchildren one day will say 'Wow grand-daddy, you had pilots, you had bus drivers, crazy! It's all done by machines now'." The car industry is undergoing a rapid period of change as manufacturers scramble to introduce better connected vehicles. But there are reservations over the regulatory and ethical implications of driverless cars. Elements of the Budii concept do already exist though. Cruise control has been around for years, and some production cars can take charge of parking or emergency braking. But the driverless dream for the masses still looks some way off. They're unlikely to outnumber traditional cars just yet, not least because they cost far more than their fossil fuel rivals.