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’s vision for the future puts you in this private first-class transport pod
- Volvo wants to build a future in which you can’t wait to commute to work
- Ford’s self-driving cars hit the streets of the nation’s capital
- AutoX will soon test its autonomous grocery delivery program in California
- U.K. on-demand car service plans autonomous vehicles in London by 2021