Italdesign unveils Climb-E autonomous capsule transport at CES

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Italdesign is best known for creating quite a few of the world’s most striking car designs, including the Nissan GT-R50, Toyota Aristo/Lexus GS of the early 1990s, the BMW M1 concept car, and even the Bugatti 18/3 Chiron concept from the late '90s. Since then, the company’s efforts have expanded to include other industries, including urban mobility. Italdesign is at CES 2023, where it unveiled the new Climb-E, an autonomous capsule vehicle with room for four passengers.

The 55-year-old company is celebrating its anniversary in Las Vegas at CES, and the Climb-E is its take on future mobility. Italdesign’s idea is to provide services directly to passengers’ doors, and the company says the Climb-E capsule can connect with other capsules on a fully-electric platform called a skid.

Intended to be an extension of the home or office, the Climb-E lets users book rides using an app. The capsule’s design allows it to be hoisted onto different floors of buildings, and it can be coupled with others on a hyperloop for longer journeys. When its job is done, and it’s back at home, the capsule can act as another room of the dwelling. Italdesign envisions a future where office buildings house hanging parking for the capsules and says they can be used as additional small private meeting spaces.

The passenger compartment features large windows that can be blocked for privacy, and at least one partially transparent window doubles as a touchscreen. The doors fold out to provide better access and can function as wheelchair ramps. Users can configure the interior display and tech functions with profiles stored in the cloud, and the screens can be individually configured when more people are on board.

Interior upholstery is eco-leather, recycled polyester, Alcantara, and “new technologies widely used in the fashion sector to customize materials.” Graphics on the seating surfaces were created using a 3D printing technique directly onto the eco-leather.

Italdesign also gave plenty of detail on the skid transport components. Designed to be used for shared, rather than privately owned, transport, the skid’s battery pack returns 200 miles of range and can charge inductively, reaching 80 percent in 15 minutes. It also features an external projection system that can warn pedestrians of unseen oncoming traffic and project the skid’s path onto the road ahead to let other drivers know where it’s headed.

The design firm’s vision is detailed and exciting, but there’s no word on plans to make Climb-E a reality. The public and private infrastructure needed to support a network of autonomous capsules are vast, and that’s before we get into the legal issues of autonomous vehicles.