When it comes to disruptive technology, Volvo is in the driver’s seat. The company envisions future travel with its new 360c concept car, a fully autonomous, fully electric car without a human driver. The concept capitalizes 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.
Volvo sees the 360c as having four potential uses for autonomous vehicles:
- Mobile sleeping environment
- Mobile office
- Mobile living/family room
- Entertainment space
Inside the sleeping environment, Volvo Cars’ safety engineers have also looked at the future of safety technology and how positioning a passenger differently could influence safety. A special safety blanket included in the sleeping environment envisions a future restraining system that works just like the three-point safety belt, but is adjusted to people lying down while traveling.
The 360c also envisions a range of new potential customer groups for the company business, such as a mobile office complete with desks and chairs, and a mobile family room. There’s also the consideration of possible implications for the future of city planning, infrastructure, and modern society’s environmental footprint.
“People becoming less reliant on proximity to cities is just one example of the impact of removing the burden of unproductive travel time,” says Volvo’s senior vice president of corporate strategy, Mårten Levenstam. “The 360c driving office makes it viable for people to live at greater distances from crowded cities and use their time both in a more pleasant and more effective way.”
Volvo expects the car business to change in the coming years and they could lead that change, says Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars. “Autonomous drive will allow us to take the big next step in safety but also open up exciting new business models and allow consumers to spend time in the car doing what they want to do.”
For example, where would you live if you could commute each workday in an autonomous driving, fully functional, connected, comfortable, mobile office space? What if the service was provided via an on-demand subscription basis? Or what if it was provided by one employer yet not another—which company would you work for?
It’s this vision for the future of autonomous travel that Volvo reveals with its 360c concept, a holistic view of a future of travel that’s autonomous, electric, connected, and safe. It could open up new growth markets, for example in the multi-billion dollar domestic air travel industry.