TAI­LOR YOUR TAXI

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Contents - an­thony@ram­say­media.co.za

YOU’VE SPENT MOST OF THE DAY on your feet, traips­ing the malls, and it’s time to head off home. So you fire up your ride-shar­ing app, tick­ing the “Deluxe back and thigh” mas­sage op­tion for your­self and “Live TV” op­tion for your com­pan­ion. Mo­ments later, at your near­est exit, your au­tonomous ride whis­pers to a halt. You step closer and the front seats swivel to face each other. Your seat slides down to a semi-re­clin­ing po­si­tion. The door opens and a cheery voice an­nounces, “Hi, Jack” (clearly, the app is still in Beta form) and in the back­ground is the throb­bing beat of Me­tal­lica, your favourite. Could this be your 2020 taxi?

What got me think­ing along these lines is a dis­cus­sion I had shortly be­fore the pic­ture above was taken. The pic­ture shows me af­ter a day-and-a-half at the Frank­furt Show, get­ting a feel for what the in­te­rior of fu­ture mo­bil­ity could look like and, by the way, rest­ing my toasted feet.

As much as we think that self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles are all about GPS, radar, cam­eras, con­nec­tiv­ity and the com­put­ers that will run ev­ery­thing, we’re miss­ing a big chunk of the story. The fact is, if we to a large ex­tent will be­come pas­sen­gers, so­ci­ety might have to re­think how and what it does on the road.

For one thing, there’s a dis­tinc­tion to be made be­tween cars meant to be bought and cars meant for shar­ing, says An­dreas Maashoff, Adi­ent’s in­dus­trial de­sign and re­search di­rec­tor re­spon­si­ble for Europe and Asia Pa­cific. You may not know Adi­ent, but you quite pos­si­bly have used its prod­ucts: seats. One of its brands is Re­caro. And if you think a seat is just a dumb thing you slump into, con­sider that al­ready they are talk­ing about a seat with bio­met­ric fea­tures, health and safety sys­tems in­clud­ing mas­sage op­tions, able to mon­i­tor your well­be­ing and com­mu­ni­cate it to those who need to know.

The con­cept shown by Adi­ent has a nor­mal mode in which the two main (front) seats face for­ward and the rears are not de­ployed. This gives you good stor­age space in the back. Then there’s a mode in which both seats are in a deep re­cline, like a pair of loungers. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion mode swivels one seat through 180 de­grees so you sit face to face. Fi­nally, in fam­ily mode, the front seats face for­ward, the rear cush­ions de­ploy and you can seat four peo­ple in short to medium-term com­fort. You can set up all of this through a smart­phone app, even in ad­vance.

In fu­ture, we will be our own ur­ban mo­bil­ity in­te­rior de­sign­ers, choos­ing fea­tures and prod­uct con­tent from a bou­quet. Viva free­dom of choice, viva! Although… you can bet there will be some in­ter­est­ing tus­sles ahead about who ex­actly gets to choose the mu­sic.

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