As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, after news broke recently that the German car giant Porsche had increased its already substantial investment in Rimac Automobili, increasing its stake in the company to 24 percent, innovator Mate Rimac took to Facebook to look back at one of his much earlier projects.
¨Once upon a time, during an interview, they asked me if we were working on autonomous driving. Back then I said that we had already made one self-driving car. At the beginning of the company´s creation, we came up with various prototypes for other companies and in that way we survived. We undertook some crazy projects that others couldn’t or didn’t want to do. We were mostly bound by confidentiality agreements, but in this case the contracts have since expired and the project has long been irrelevant so I decided to share the story of that famous self-driving car here.
Back in 2013, when there were about 10 of us working at the company, and we started working for a large German company. They told us their vision of the future – orally, without any specifications. I have to admit that before that project I thought autonomous driving was uninteresting and I didn’t think about the concept of mobility as a service. The customer wanted us to develop and build a prototype based on their idea. The catch was that we have to do all this within 90 days because otherwise their budget reservation for the project would fail and go to the “second box office” (which is big corporate language for “we will not pay you if you do not do something that is almost impossible”).
90 days of work day and night on a completely new vehicle concept with a completely different principle of steering and drive (eg 3 in-wheel engines that were also used to “straighten” up the vehicle). Yes, it is a real vehicle and I drove to Samobor once in it.
The aim was to show what the future of mobility might look like. The car of course did not drive autonomously but had a joystick to control it between the seats (drive / steer / brake by wire) and remotely for the purposes of a demonstration video. Given the budget, time, knowledge and size of the team we had at our disposal, this is something I´m still proud of to this day and it opened my eyes in terms of which direction the future of individual mobility should or could go.
We also had the concept of “nice” performance (with a “real” exterior design – not a “pipe” with pipes, but there was no time or money for that). We survived doing such things back at the beginning. We went down to the wire and were often late with our commitments, but we managed to survive. Today, companies with less than this prototype raise hundreds of millions of euros in funding, but it was a different time back then. As little as 8 years may seem, in fact, at least in our industry, everything has completely changed.
By the way, there have been a bunch of other similar projects and I might show you some of them – of course the ones I can show today without making our customers then or now angry. Thanks to everyone who participated in creating this insane device.¨
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