The designer of the Koenigsegg Regera has created... an automated taxi?
The WayRay Holograktor is intended to be remotely driven and make extensive use of holographic projections
Sasha Selipanov has worked on some seriously cool cars in his career. He's Christian Von Koenigsegg's go-to designer for his mad scientist creations and has previously worked as a designer for Bugatti, Genesis and Lamborghini. His latest design project, though, is something completely different from his usual world of high-end sports cars and supercars. This is the WayRay Holograktor, a Swiss-developed automated taxi that could very well be the catalyst for changing how we experience being ferried around in urban environments!
The Holograktor is intended to be remotely piloted (it does have a detachable steering wheel that can be used to drive it like a regular car if need be) and is intended for ride-hailing services similar to Uber or Lyft. The remote piloting system is intended to be a kind of halfway house between conventional driving and full autonomy. It's intended to utilise a single-motor electric powertrain with a promised range of 372 miles (achieved by using a "cutting-edge battery"), a 0-62 time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 124 mph. Pretty speedy for a taxi, although the range might cause some anxiety at times...
That's not the most important or most awesome part about the Holograktor, though. That's the extensive use of holographic projections and displays throughout the vehicle. The holographic capability comes from the dashboard (for the front passengers) and the distinctive "shrimp" hump on the roof of the car (for the rear passengers) and will be able to be individually configured for each passenger through the use of different "eye boxes". What could the augmented reality system be used for? Anything from displaying adverts (to reduce the cost of ride-hailing, according to WayRay's CEO Vitaly Ponomarev), visualising how autonomous cars make decisions and even providing augmented reality games.
The design of the car is even optimised for its holographic capability. Selipanov drew upon influences from Russian constructivist artwork and architecture, heavily leaning on the use of prisms. According to Selipanov, this kind of design language is "perfectly appropriate for a car built to highlight holography". I guess we'll take the master designer's word for it... Oh, and it also has some really cool doors. There's no guessing where the inspiration for those doors could have come from in Selipanov's previous work!
Whilst WayRay does have backing from Hyundai and Porsche, Ponomarev was adamant that the Holograktor was done as a completely independent project with no help from either of those outside backers. "We wanted to make a statement without involving car makers," he told Autocar. "We wanted to present to end users." He did however go on to say that WayRay's platform could be licenced out to other manufacturers. He even hinted that WayRay could start up its own ride-hailing service using the car, possibly using big offices staffed with teams of remote drivers. "Yeah, why not? It will be like a call centre," he quipped. There were also hints that the Holograktor's augmented reality system could be adapted to be used in a home environment, although Ponomarev was very tight-lipped about the details of how that could be done.
Is the WayRay Holograktor the future of urban taxi journeys? Maybe. It's certainly a very intriguing concept that takes a new spin on what ride-hailing could be like in the future. The concept of remotely piloting a vehicle as a kind of "intermediate step" towards full autonomy is also a very interesting proposition, as we know all too well by now how buggy and problematic autonomous driving systems can still be. Perhaps we'll need to give this project some time and see how it all pans out.