Self-driv­ing Volvo

It’ll re­place short-haul flights

Autocar - - THIS WEEK - RICHARD BREM­NER

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, called the 360c a con­ver­sa­tion starter de­signed to offer “a glimpse at how au­ton­o­mous drive tech­nol­ogy will change the world as we know it”. He added: “The pos­si­bil­i­ties are mind-bog­gling.”

The 360c is a fully au­ton­o­mous elec­tric car sim­i­lar in size to a Volvo XC90 that “reimag­ines how peo­ple travel, how they en­gage with friends, fam­ily and con­tacts, and how they can re­cap­ture time while trav­el­ling”.

As a fully au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle that re­quires no driver in­put, the 360c’s cabin aban­dons a tra­di­tional car in­te­rior lay­out and can be con­fig­ured as a mo­bile bed­room, of­fice or a casual space.

“Fully au­ton­o­mous drive has the po­ten­tial to fun­da­men­tally change our so­ci­ety in many ways,” said Leven­stam. “It will have a pro­found im­pact on how peo­ple travel, how we de­sign our cities and how we use in­fra­struc­ture.”

Volvo be­lieves the use of self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles could be­come prefer­able to air­craft by trav­el­ling at night, in ef­fect turn­ing them into busi­ness­class cab­ins with a flat bed. The brand sug­gests the 360c could prove quicker end to end than flights of around 200 miles.

More im­por­tant, Volvo says au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles prom­ise im­proved safety, re­duced pol­lu­tion and lower lev­els of traf­fic con­ges­tion. As a con­se­quence, this will lead to

health­ier and higher-qual­ity lives for city dwellers.

Al­though Volvo has not com­mit­ted to a date for pro­duc­ing the 360c, the firm’s R&D boss, Hen­rik Green, said he thought fully au­ton­o­mous cars could be a re­al­ity in the early 2020s, adding that he was op­ti­mistic by na­ture.

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