Volvo showcases their Car...(err...lack of) Car Concept 26 at the LA Auto Show
Volvo's latest concept car, or rather lack of concept car, turned heads at the LA Auto Show. Instead of a vehicle, what was unveiled was an interior design concept of the future of autonomous cars. For those of you unfamiliar... cars that drive themselves. Concept 26, named for the average of 26 minutes commuters remain in their vehicles, has three modes - Drive... incase you know, you actually want to use that round thing in front of you to control your vehicle - Create... in which your steering wheel will move out of your way and make room for a little tray table and Relax... where apparently your chair turns into an ottoman and the infotainment center becomes more accessible.
On one hand... ladies, you'll never have to feel bad about sending your husband to the store on a Sunday because he'll be able to watch the game the entire way there and back, but on the other hand he may not come back until after the game is over.
While we find this technology to be really cool and fascinating, we wonder if just because technology can move forward into this autonomous driving space, do we really want it to? With technology already consuming every aspects of our lives anywhere we go ever since the invention of smart phones and wifi, his concept reminds us of something else we've seen, maybe in a movie. In Pixar's Wall-E the characters were so consumed in their autonomous technology they couldn't even see or interact with the other humans next to them. They became lazy and gluttonous. I mean not driving has it's perks, and wouldn't it be great to catch up on last season's Game of Thrones while you're stuck in 3 hours of holiday traffic but what is the price we'll have to pay? Sometimes car rides create the most entertaining and thoughtful conversations between two people and getting out of the house and leaving the technology behind can be a good thing. Either way, its cool and exciting but for those of us who love to actually drive our cars, we are a little bitter sweet about where Volvo is passionately attempting to take the world of consumer vehicles.
VOLVO CARS UNVEILS CONCEPT 26, DELIVERING THE LUXURY OF TIME
Volvo Cars' ongoing research into autonomous driving has confirmed what we all know - that the daily commute is taking the joy out of driving. It is during the commute and on long motorway trips that people are most willing to delegate the act of driving to their car.
With this in mind, Volvo has developed Concept 26, named to reflect the average daily commute to work of 26 minutes* – time that could be spent doing something more meaningful than sitting in stop-start traffic. Volvo has set out to bring choice and freedom back to the driver; to enjoy the driving experience when they want to, or to delegate driving to the car when they want to do something else.
Drive, Create, Relax
"It's all about people. Our research clearly shows that some people will want to use their commuting time creatively when they have full autonomous drive available, while others will want to just sit back and relax, watch online media or listen to music. Autonomous drive will make all of this possible. This is what Concept 26 has captured by reimagining the entire car experience," said Robin Page, Vice President of Interior Design at Volvo Cars.
Concept 26 is based around an all-new patented seat design that actively cradles the driver during the transformation phase into one of the three modes: Drive, Create or Relax. With these three modes the concept creates a new autonomous drive innovation platform that can adapt to new needs and technologies over time.
When the driver wishes to delegate driving to the car, the steering wheel retracts, the seat reclines and a large display emerges from the dashboard allowing the driver to enjoy the time spent in the car as they like. Concept 26 embraces the need for radical change of the basic design of car interiors and provides a space that can be used as the driver/passenger wishes.
Concept 26 opens up a new paradigm of possibilities in the car - from entertainment to service provision and beyond, using the technology that is now a natural part of our everyday lives. It also signals the huge potential for new business opportunities and high-tech collaborations that autonomous drive will bring.
"We have gone to great lengths to understand the challenges and opportunities that autonomous cars will bring to people in coming years, and our flexible approach to engineering and design, enabled by our new Scalable Product Architecture, means that we can readily bring this from concept to reality," said Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development at Volvo Car Group.
Volvo Cars' ongoing Drive Me research project, which will see an extended fleet of fully autonomous cars driving real customers on the roads of Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2017 is further proof that Volvo is a leader in autonomous drive technology, building firmly on its foundation of safety.
"Volvo Cars is among the first to address the subject of self-driving cars and liability. We firmly believe that car makers should take full responsibility for the actions of the car when it is driving in full autonomous mode. If a manufacturer does not accept liability, it clearly implies that they are not confident about their autonomous drive technology," said Dr Peter Mertens.
*Based on research of the average commute time in the United States