Jeeves, meet your replacement. Her name is Eleanor.
After more than a century of building some of the most exclusive cars ever driven by chauffeurs, Rolls-Royce has found a new valet. Though the artificial intelligence system known as "Eleanor" is still just a concept, she offers a peek into how the world's most refined name in automobiles sees the ultra-wealthy getting around in the future.
The technology is featured in the brand's 103EX Vision 100 concept car, an autonomous vehicle, which was unveiled in London on Thursday.
"She [Eleanor] will look after you," said Ian Robertson, a BMW board member who once ran the Rolls-Royce division, and who remains close to the brand. "She will determine what your mood is like today, and then change the way the car drives, change the ambiance inside of it, maybe change the music."
Eleanor is the personality behind the car that would, like all Rolls-Royce models, be customized to the owner's exact specifications. The company, which is owned by BMW and based in Goodwood, England, specializes in making sure owners have those unique touches that are not found in other ultra-luxury sedans.
For the Vision 100, Rolls included a glass canopy roof that opens with the door to a luxurious interior.
"We have configured the vehicle as a backseat only, with nothing in front of you," Robertson said. "But if you want it, it could be a four-seater, a five-seater. It could have a driving wheel and space for your favorite driver also."
Which brings us back to Eleanor.
Rolls-Royce says the name behind the artificial intelligence system was inspired by the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament on the front of every Rolls. Legend has it, the sculptor of that ornament, Charles Sykes, modeled the image after Eleanor Thornton, a British model from the early 1900s.
Much like other artificial intelligence programs being developed, Eleanor would be connected to the car owner's life beyond the Rolls-Royce Vision 100.
"A butler is one way of referring to it, but I think more importantly than that it will touch every aspect of you as an individual and your needs for mobility," Robertson said. "And who knows, maybe your needs in life in general."
For now, Eleanor is still a concept, just like the 103EX. But the way technology is developing, Jeeves better be prepared for the day when he's no longer asked to get the Rolls ready for a drive.
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