Auto supplier pushes ‘skateboard’ car technology


Rinspeed's Snap concept vehicle consists of an autonomously driven chassis, or “skateboard,” that docks and customizable passenger safety cells, or pods. Courtesy Gentex

An automotive supplier in the region has provided key technologies for an autonomous “skateboard” concept vehicle that will debut next month.

Zeeland-based Gentex, a supplier of connected-car and digital vision features for the auto industry, recently developed key features on an autonomous, vehicle-sized skateboard called Snap.

The vehicle, produced by the Zumikon, Switzerland-based automotive think tank and car design company Rinspeed, will debut during the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which runs Jan. 9-12.

It will also be featured at the Geneva International Motor Show in March.

Gentex said it developed Snap’s biometric passenger authentication modules, vehicle-to-home automation control and dimmable glass sensor shrouds.

Vehicle design

Snap users summon the vehicle-size skateboard that docks with personalized passenger pods and autonomously drives users "anywhere" they want to go.

The Snap concept vehicle consists of two parts: an autonomously driven chassis, or skateboard, that docks with various customizable passenger safety cells, or pods. Separating the vehicle into two components allows the autonomous skateboard to operate 24/7, serving multiple customers throughout the day. The chassis can be replaced as mechanical components wear out or IT components reach obsolescence.

The "durable and versatile" passenger pods can live on and be personalized for commuting, working, deliveries and more. They can also be used when stationary, serving as mobile offices, campers or secondary living spaces.

The Snap concept was designed to help reduce traffic congestion, enhance overall vehicle lifecycles and provide a more environmentally friendly mobility model, according to Gentex.

Gentex ID technology and the passenger experience

The vehicle-based biometric ID module that Gentex designed authenticates the passengers and delivers customized security, comfort and convenience features. The system consists of a small module that houses near-infrared emitters, an iris-scanning camera and system-level intelligence.

Once a passenger is identified, the biometric system allows the vehicle to operate and enables personalization by automatically adjusting seat position, HVAC controls, music favorites, GPS locations and other cabin amenities, according to user-determined pre-sets.

The biometric system can also sanction safe, secure access to a host of cloud-based, connected-vehicle services.

For instance, an authenticated iris scan can grant passengers access to work files and virtual meetings, allow for secure banking transactions and provide added security for in-vehicle, trip-related purchases, such as tolls, vehicle charging and parking.

Gentex HomeLink 

Gentex’s HomeLink technology, which uses radio frequency and wireless cloud-based connectivity to operate gates, garage doors, security systems, thermostats, home lighting and more, could also be controlled by the biometrics system.

Once authenticated, passengers could control all of their home automation devices from within the Snap vehicle using the HomeLink Connect app. The biometrics system could provide security and convenience for multiple passengers by activating the home automation pre-sets of the vehicle’s authorized users.


Founded in 1974, Gentex Corporation (Nasdaq: GNTX) is a maker of automatic-dimming rearview mirrors and electronics for the automotive industry, dimmable aircraft windows for the aviation industry and products for the fire-protection industry.

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