VOLVO’s latest concept car imagines a self-driving ‘pod’ which will let drivers and passengers work, play and relax and forget about all that tedious driving.
There is nothing new in such a concept of course, but what sets the Swedish manufacturer’s idea apart is that it is aimed at taking on air travel.
The big plus of the 360c concept is that by making your own way to your long distance destination you avoid all the hassle and stress of airport security, hours of queuing and waiting, and noisy, cramped airliners.
Instead users of the 360c will be travel in their own first-class private cabin from the moment they leave their door to the money they arrive at their destination.
Volvo explains: “The basis of the 360c is a fully autonomous, fully electric car without a human driver. The concept capitalises on the freedom in design afforded by the absence of a steering wheel and a combustion engine, providing the ability to reimagine the traditional placement of passengers in rows of two or three”.
This means that the space freed up can be reconfigured for one of four potential uses of autonomous driving vehicles – a sleeping environment, mobile office, living room and entertainment space – which all reimagine the way people travel.
According to Volvo, the 360c represents a potentially lucrative competitor to short-haul air travel, focusing on shorter routes where the distance between origin and destination is around 300 kilometres.
For example, within the United States over 740 million travellers embarked on domestic flights last year and America’s domestic air travel industry is worth billions of dollars in revenue. Several busy domestic air routes, such as New York to Washington DC, Houston to Dallas and Los Angeles to San Diego, are more time-consuming by air than by car when including things such as travel to the airport, security checks and waiting times.
“Domestic air travel sounds great when you buy your ticket, but it really isn’t. The 360c represents what could be a whole new take on the industry,” said Mårten Levenstam, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Volvo Cars. “The sleeping cabin allows you to enjoy premium comfort and peaceful travel through the night and wake up refreshed at your destination. It could enable us to compete with the world’s leading aircraft makers.”
autonomous driving technology to fundamentally change society in many ways.
“When the Wright brothers took to the skies in 1903, they did not have a clue about what modern air travel would look like,” said Mårten Levenstam. “We do not know what the future of autonomous drive will hold, but it will have a profound impact on how people travel, how we design our cities and how we use infrastructure. We regard the 360c as a conversation starter, with more ideas and answers to come as we learn more.”