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Rinspeed wanted to make its latest concept car a literal urban oasis

Swiss firm Rinspeed has more details on its latest radical concept car, an autonomous two-seater called the Oasis that will appear at CES 2017 and the 2017 Detroit Auto Show in January.

Rinspeed has lofty goals for the tiny car. The company believes it can be a literal oasis in the urban landscape, providing a peaceful space that passengers can enjoy because they don’t have to drive. Rinspeed also views the Oasis as a companion just like, it says, the Star Wars droid R2-D2.

Like R2-D2, the Oasis can spin around in place. The car does that with two in-wheel electric motors and a special steering mechanism. While it looks fairly nondescript on the outside, the Oasis packs a lot on the inside, including armchairs, a television, and even a garden, which Rinspeed says has enough growing space for radishes or bonsai trees.

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To give its occupants something to do besides tend plants, the Oasis is also equipped with Harman’s Life-Enhancing Intelligent Vehicle Solutions (LIVS) connectivity system, which uses the car’s curved 5K widescreen monitor, and includes voice and gesture controls. The system basically turns the Oasis into a personal assistant, allowing passengers to check on their friends via social media, reserve a table at a nearby restaurant, or make Skype calls for work. These features can also be accessed outside the car using Harman’s cloud.

The Oasis can also be manually driven by unfolding a steering wheel from the dashboard, but the driver must first pass a fitness and alertness test. This addresses concerns that humans can’t simply take over driving after long periods of inattention, although it’s still hard to say what would happen in an emergency requiring a human driver to take control quickly.

Rinspeed views the Oasis as more than just a personal car. The company believes it could also be used as a delivery vehicle, or even in both roles under some form of car-sharing scheme. All of that is theoretical, though. Like the company’s previous concepts, the Rinspeed Oasis isn’t functional; it’s just meant to demonstrate the possibilities of different technologies and design ideas.