Ikea jumps on the autonomous car bandwagon — because why wouldn’t it?

Ikea sees autonomous shuttles with lounge-like interiors as a business opportunity. Why wouldn’t it? Building a car without a steering wheel or a dashboard gives designers freedom to think outside the box and make an interior with drawers, a table, and sofa-like chairs — Ikea’s areas of expertise, in other words. Space10, the furniture giant’s research and development arm, has revealed seven virtual concepts that outline its vision for the future of commuting.

“The real potential of self-driving cars isn’t in our ability to drive without having our hands on the wheel. It’s in what we will be able to do or experience within self-driving cars,” the company opined in a statement.

The concepts are named Office, Cafe, Healthcare, Farm, Play, Hotel, and Shop, respectively. Some of them fall in line with what we’ve already seen from established automakers. Volvo’s recently unveiled, super-futuristic 360c concept explores what an electric shuttle that lets passengers work, relax, or sleep on the go looks like. Others bring yet more new ideas to the conversation about autonomous cars.

Space10 bills the Cafe as a coffee shop on wheels that encourages urbanites to take a break from their busy lives to socialize over a latte. It presents Farm as a way to deliver fresh food — especially produce — to members of low-income communities who might have a difficult time getting to a store or a market.

Play is another interesting one. It’s a small room on wheels in which users can play augmented reality games tied into the vehicle’s surroundings. Imagine immersing yourself in Pokemon Go while traveling across New York City in a shuttle that drives itself.

Shop reinvents the concept of a pop-up store by making it mobile; it’s a concept that could put ice cream truck drivers out of a job — or at least the driving part of it. Finally, Healthcare brings medical professionals to patients, not the other way around. It’s decked out with all of the equipment needed for a check-up, and it can dispatch a roof-mounted flying taxi to the nearest hospital in the event of an emergency.

Sound cool? Space10 thinks so, and it created an app to let Apple users experience the seven concepts from every angle on their iPhone or iPad. That’s as close as you’ll get to them in the foreseeable future, though. It’s too early to tell when — or if — we’ll see any of the concepts on public roads.

Space10 hasn’t signaled a firm intent to begin producing the prototypes. Odds are it’s waiting for another company to start building autonomous shuttles before it seriously looks into furnishing them. There’s no indication Ikea or Space10 aim to develop an autonomous car from start to finish but many other companies are presently racing toward that goal. Volvo told Digital Trends it’s working on one; could it join forces with fellow Swedish giant Ikea?


Volvo plans to face the future without sacrificing its identity

Volvo is embarking on an ambitious push to fill its lineup with electric and hybrid cars, as well as an infotainment partnership with Google. Volvo Americas CEO Anders Gustafsson explains how the Swedish automaker plans to pull that off.

Ford’s self-driving cars hit the streets of the nation’s capital

Ford is deploying self-driving cars in Washington, D.C. to demonstrate their capabilities to lawmakers and ordinary citizens alike. The automaker plans to launch a production autonomous car in 2021.

U.K. on-demand car service plans autonomous vehicles in London by 2021

U.K.-based Addison Lee and Oxbotica allied to serve the connected and autonomous vehicle services market. Addison Lee is an established executive car service and Oxbotica develops self-driving car systems and fleet management software.
Product Review

Audi's new A8 is so sophisticated and serene, it practically deletes potholes

The 2019 Audi A8’s outline looks promising: Level 3 autonomous driving capability, haptic-feedback infotainment screens, rear-wheel steering, Matrix LED headlights and OLED taillights, plus a predictive suspension.

Volkswagen’s next-generation lights will keep you safer, look good doing it

Volkswagen's new smart LED headlights, called IQ.Light, don't just light up the road in front of you to keep you, other drivers, and pedestrians safe. They also look dang good while doing it.

Adventurous and electric, Porsche’s second electric car will fill a new niche

Porsche surprised us at the Geneva Auto Show with an electric station wagon named Mission E Cross Turismo. Though it's a concept car, it could become a production model after the Mission E sedan arrives in showrooms.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I.-powered cat toys, wallets, food containers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Mustang-like and electrified. What did Ford just show a preview of?

Ford briefly flashed an enigmatic new model in a minute-long commercial starring Bryan Cranston. Its front end borrows styling cues from the 2019 Mustang, but it doesn't have a grille and its emblem is back-lit.

Tesla drops Full Self-Driving option from online configurator to spare ‘confusion’

Tesla no longer offers a Full Self-Driving (FSD) option for Models S, X, and 3 in the company's online configuration tool. CEO Elon Musk said the FSD option caused confusion. Its software validation and regulatory approval could take years.

Protect yourself (and maybe capture something crazy) with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.

Drive.ai's free on-demand self-driving car service is now available in Frisco

After deploying its self-driving shuttles in Frisco, California-based start-up Drive.ai is launching a second pilot program in Arlington. Riding in a shuttle -- which operates in a geo-fenced area -- is free.
Emerging Tech

World’s first drone-equipped motorcycle features a special space for the Spark

If your sidecar is missing a drone or your drone a sidecar, then check out how the two machines have been brought together in this unique design from Ural Motorcycles. Only 40 have been made, though that may turn out to be enough.

Wirelessly charging an EV in 15 minutes sounds crazy, but it’s getting closer

Researchers at the Department of Energy want you to be able to wirelessly charge your electric vehicle in just 15 minutes. And they've recently passed a major milestone on the journey to that goal.

This glow-in-the-dark, scorpion-skinned Fiat 500 Abarth helps fight cancer

Fiat's Abarth division has teamed up with a Dutch artist to create a one-of-a-kind 500 painted with pieces of scorpion skin. Rest assured that no scorpions were harmed to create this hot hatch; a scorpion molts 16 times in its life.