Volvo has revealed the 360c autonomous concept car, which it says imagines a world where self-driving vehicles could replace short-haul air travel.
Mårten Levenstam, Volvo’s head of corporate strategy, said the 360c is designed to offer “a glimpse at how autonomous drive technology will change the world as we know it”, adding: “The possibilities are mind-boggling.”
The 360c is a fully autonomous electric car that “reimagines how people travel, how they engage with friends, family and contacts, and how they can recapture time while travelling”. Volvo says such autonomous machines could alter the fundamental pattern of how people live.
Conceived as a Level 5 autonomous vehicle, meaning it requires no driver input at all, the cabin abandons the traditional two- and three-row seating of today’s family car. It can be configured as a mobile bedroom, an office, a living room or an entertainment space.
“We regard the 360c as a conversation starter, with more ideas and answers to come as we learn more,” said Levenstam. “Yet we believe fully autonomous drive has the potential to fundamentally change our society in many ways.
“It will have a profound impact on how people travel, how we design our cities and how we use infrastructure. But we are just one of many stakeholders, so we expect and invite a broad discussion as society learns how to make the most of this revolutionary technology.”
Volvo believes the use of self-driving vehicles could become preferable to aircraft by travelling at night, in effect turning them into business class cabins with a flat bed. The brand suggests that trips involving flights of around 200 miles could be quicker end to end in an autonomous car.
Previously unproductive daytime travel could then be used for other activities such as work, socialising and entertainment. Volvo also says that self-driving cars, and the way in which they can be used, could open up new markets for the company.
Levenstam said: “People becoming less reliant on proximity to cities is just one example of the impact of removing the burden of unproductive travel time. 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.”
More importantly, Volvo says autonomous vehicles promise improved safety, reduced pollution and lower traffic congestion. As a consequence, this will lead to healthier and higher-quality lives for city dwellers.