Love the idea or hate it – and apparently plenty of us do hate it – driverless cars are on the way. While it will still be some time before we reach full recline-and-relax level 6 autonomy, Tesla and others are out there gathering the mountains of real-world data generated by semi-autonomous cars that’s needed to make this happen. In the meantime, designers are anticipating the day they’ll be unshackled from the constraints of driver and steering wheel by creating concepts that redefine the car, inside and out. Here’s a taste of what’s in store.
The living room on wheels
Driverless cars will change the way we think about owning a vehicle. Taxi pods are likely to become the norm for most of us, and kids born in 2022 probably won’t even learn to drive at all. But those with the inclination and the resources will definitely have some luxurious living-room-on-wheels designs to choose from over the next decade … and if there’s a steering wheel at all, it’ll be fully retractable.
If the boxy buses, trains and taxis that form the backbone of modern public transport are anything to go on, communal transport pods might be fairly utilitarian affairs. But the shift away from personal ownership and the efficiency of connected cities where traffic jams are a thing of the past could also free up designers to innovate in surprising ways.
Self-driving vehicles will also make it much easier to go beyond city streets. Who needs to be an experienced off-road driver, or a pilot for that matter, when a highly trained algorithm can do the job. Campervans will take you to your destination – and maybe even climb mountains – while in the bullish air taxi market, China’s eHang has already completed tens of thousands of autonomous test flights.