According to Volvo’s ongoing research into autonomous driving, the daily commute is taking the joy out of driving, with most people willing to delegate the task to their car.
As a result, Volvo has developed Concept 26, named to reflect the average daily commute to work of 26 minutes.
“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.
According to Dr Mertens, Volvo believes that car makers should take full responsibility for the actions of the car when it is driving in full autonomous mode. He said: “If a manufacturer does not accept liability it clearly implies that they are not confident about their autonomous drive technology.”
Volvo was the first manufacturer in Australia to test its autonomous vehicles on our roads. The Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative was hosted by the South Australian Government earlier this month, which saw a specially modified Volvo XC90 utilising the existing pilot assist function with added “hands off” technology being driven on Adelaide’s Southern Expressway.
Managing Director of Volvo Car Australia, Kevin McCann believes autonomous drive capable vehicles would provide a tremendous environmental, and societal benefit and could be in market within the next 3-5 years.
“Concept 26 shows the next evolution of the journey and the Volvo Cars vision for autonomous drive,” said McCann.