If no one is driving, where's the best place to sit?
Picture it. You and your friends are packed and ready to hit the road for a cross country trip. There’s a feeling of excitement and relief knowing that your autonomous car is going to do all the driving. Then you consider. If no one is driving, where’s the best place to sit?
Depending on what level of autonomy your car has, your seating options will greatly vary. Not to mention, automotive designers get to play in a bigger sandbox.
Level 3 autonomous cars, in all actuality, will not be immensely different from the cars on the road today. The car will drive itself well enough in cities or on highways, that you don’t have to pay attention. You still need to be at the helm. At any moment, the car could call upon you to take control, so don’t stray too far from the pedals and wheel. You can, however, enjoy a much more comfortable ride for a majority of the time you’re in the car.
Cars that rank level 4 autonomy will be a much different story. The defining factor being, “Driving Mode”. As much as the car can accomplish on its own, it will still occasionally need your help. Thankfully, cars at this level will give you plenty of warning as to when you’ll need to intervene – like under certain conditions on the highway. Some of the time you’re going to have to take the wheel, for instance, while going high speeds on highways. The faster the car goes, the harder it is to sense its surroundings, and therefore can’t guarantee your safety.
For times when you need or want to take charge, compact controls will likely become standard. They may look closer to an Xbox controller than steering wheel. The rest of the time, the space is yours. Seats will be able to rotate or maybe even become a bed. You can play cards, have a meal, or just spend quality time with your family.
Finally, level 5 autonomous vehicles. Automotive designers become interior decorators with teams of engineers. TVs, coffee tables, and couches will become commonplace. BMW already has a concept with a bookshelf, so you can read 1984 as your technology drives you around.
Throw in computers, WiFi, maybe even a desk, and a long commute to will work becomes time spent at work. Road trips will be far more relaxing as games of “punch-buggy” will be replaced with binging TV shows, together, as a family.
As car start to require less human control, there’s more availability for human activity. Models will be made for even more specific purposes and the options could become limitless. A far cry from Henry Ford’s notion of “any color so long as it’s black.”
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