Volvo Cars officially has been known to be working heavily towards semi-autonomous and autonomous driving technology and their latest reveal at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show is an example of this. Rather than revealing a new car, they revealed a new design concept for their interiors, promoting and exhibiting their push towards autonomous driving technology.
They call it Concept 26, which is a design and technology pitch at a morphing in-car dashboard design specifically meant to change its functionality for those who seek to be driven rather than drive themselves.
So what is it exactly, besides some handsome middle-aged bloke sitting in a chair with a Volvo steering wheel in front?
It’s a dashboard that morphs between a total of three manual and autonomous modes at the whim of the driver: Drive, Create, Relax. The three modes do various things to the dashboard, which can allow the driver to drive the car themselves (Drive), or have the car pilot itself; or they can have the car drive itself in Create and Relax modes. The Create and Relax modes reposition the driver’s seat and actuates a variety of changes to the physical dashboard itself.
Create mode allows a large LCD screen to fold out of the dashboard and serve as a massive tablet where drivers or their passenger up front can do various types of computer-based work, which is ideallistic for those traffic-heavy commutes before morning meetings, or if someone all of a sudden comes up with a great idea during his or her commute. And Relax mode is for the obvious, where the dashboard remains in the autonomous mode and allows the driver to relax from the burden of actually driving, without having to stop the journey.
It’s all quite interesting, though Volvo didn’t quite say when they plan to implement Concept 26 into the production stage. But given this design concept, plus Volvo’s recent official declaration to hold themselves responsible for actions of the car while in full autonomous mode, this further grounds Volvo’s desire to really push for autonomous driving.
Be sure to see Volvo’s Concept 26 in action on the floor of the LA Convention Center next week.
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-haul 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-go 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 believes 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.
– By: Chris Chin