Visual Communication for Safety – Rinspeed’s “Snap” Concept Car

Visual Communication for Safety – Rinspeed’s “Snap” Concept Car

Mobility & Immobility

Mobility and immobility are merging – creating a flexible living environment that connects users to their surroundings. This transformation has produced a shift from owning a vehicle to sharing a vehicle in urban environments, allowing a flexible vehicle evolution to emerge in the living, working or even utility fields. This evolution takes place as development increases on the cognitive, communicative and personalized abilities of autonomous systems. The Snap lighting system demonstrates the peak of these emerging trends.

Autonomous driving allows us to focus on life, leaving the actual “driving” to the vehicle. This translates to a refined focus on safety, of which is the Snap’s top priority. Like we’ve seen in years past with flat light panels in the Budii, an illuminated seat logo of the Etos, and recently the transparent and functional rear window of the Oasis – visual communication clearly plays a major role within Techniplas. Today, this technology is yet developed within the Snap.

The Snap uses its front, rear and side lighting to communicate with its environment. These surfaces are covered by actively dimmable glass, which turn transparent when the vehicle “awakens;” conversely, the surface has a non-transparent mirroring finish when the vehicle is not activated. These facetted surfaces contain RGB-LED light sources, not directly visible – each having their own function or combining ability. The front, rear and side lighting surfaces visually indicate its intent to turn. Additionally, the lighting surfaces contain communicative symbols, both static and dynamic, that inform pedestrians and other autonomous users in the vicinity.

We witness these symbols when the Snap comes upon a pedestrian at crossings, at which point a green Ampelmann* symbol, “walk,” is displayed when pedestrians can cross safely. Conversely, the Snap displays a red Ampelmann* symbol, “don’t walk,” when it is not safe for pedestrians to cross. Also among these symbols is the intriguing battery display. Located in the back, the status of charge is known by viewing its animated process.

The Snaps uniqueness lies in its ability to detach the Skateboard from the Pod. During the coupling and decoupling process, blinking red and green lights dance across the door sills, warning the vicinity of the separation or attachment. Red and green animated lighting also displays below the opening doors as a warning when passengers are boarding and de-boarding; green is used for the opening of the doors and red is used for the closing.

Be it a pleasant ambience, safety-related communication, or brand recognition – visual effects can offer users a wide range of options. Techniplas creates 2-dimensional lighting elements through the combination of LEDs with creatively shaped light guides, extending the boundaries of lighting technology. Light guides made of Plexiglas® from Evonik have micro-structured areas supplied with light by high performance LEDs. Inspiring 3D effects are created by multilayer structures of the individual optical fibers. Multilayered designs of lit areas allow the superposition of functions, such as the rear lighting and brake lights, on the same surface. The lighting functions integrated into the existing surfaces offer a clean design of the vehicle.

Techniplas Technology

At Techniplas we are committed to rapidly embracing and infusing new technologies and innovation. With the Snap lighting system these ideas come together, as the solution was to microstructure the surface of the light guide. Our OPTIBACK software, designed specifically for this purpose, was acquired by our unique expertise in the field.

“OPTIBACK allows us to accurately define the scattering or characteristics of coupling out at a microstructure point,” explains Dr. Peter Dörfler, head of research and development. “The coordinates of microstructure points are calculated by simulating the known light emission characteristics of each point.”

The result matches light guides with previously unmatched homogeneity and effectiveness. The system furthermore offers designers tools for 3D calculation. This technology has proven to be versatile. The use of RGB-LEDs allow for the increase in conveyed information and display of status messages. The lighting of a defined area in a structure and multi-colored symbols offer a wide range of options for visual interaction.

Like OPTIBACK, another naturally integrative and exponential technology to Techniplas is 3D printing. Techniplas’ partner, XponentialWorks, a company focused on additive manufacturing and technology development, 3D printed the load-bearing structure of the illuminated Skateboard areas. Development and production processes were reduced and, despite limited space, creates a basis for optimal assembly, strength and an accurate fit.

Company Profile

Techniplas is a leading global design and manufacturing provider of engineered products and services that are helping to shape the future of mobility. By continuously expanding the reach of our data enabled cognitive technologies into everything we do, we deliver personalized, performance-enhanced and sustainable mobility. Find out more at

XponentialWorks is a venture investment, advisory and product development company focused on seeding and scaling high-tech companies that are creating and disrupting the connected world. With over 3 decades of additive manufacturing experience and over 50 investments and acquisitions in the team’s history, we thrive on taking technology to the next level. Learn more at

* With the kind permission and support of AMPELMANN GmbH,
By |2017-12-18T09:28:04-06:00December 18th, 2017|Thought Leadership|0 Comments