As autonomous cars take over the tedium of driving from humans, what will passengers do with their extra free time in the car? According to Volvo, average American drivers could regain an extra 26 minutes per day by letting an autonomous car take the wheel. The company’s Concept 26 shows how the interior of a self-driving car might be redesigned to help drivers get the most use out of those extra minutes when their eyes are off the roads.
The idea is not that different from the lounge-like Mercedes-Benz self-driving concepts, in which the car’s interior functions more as lounge for passengers than cockpit for drivers. In the case of the Volvo Concept 26, there are three basic modes for the interior: In Drive, humans can still drive manually. Switch to Create mode, and the interior can be reconfigured with tablet computers and a seat so that the driver can now work. And in Relax mode, the seat fully reclines, while a display screen shows content that is “curated” by the car’s on-board computer.
Notably, Volvo’s concept does not fully remove humans from driving but instead recognizes that there are times when humans want to drive, and other situations when they’d rather zone out behind the wheel.
“Concept 26 allows drivers to use their time in ways never before possible in a car,” Volvo General Manager of the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center Anders Tylman-Mikiewicz said in a statement. “By providing drivers the choice of when to drive or delegate driving, we are able to retain the love and freedom of the open road while fixing the broken commute.”
To facilitate all this interaction, the Volvo Concept 26 has an enormous 25-inch color display on the passenger side of the dashboard, a tablet computer in the center console, a folding tray table, and a fully reclining driver’s seat with extendable footrest. Though Volvo hasn’t said which vehicle these features would be integrated in, the company notes that Concept 26 is built on the SPA flexible platform that underpins the Volvo XC90 and upcoming models like the S90 luxury sedan.
What will you do with an extra 26 minutes of time on your daily commute?