Volvo’s vision for the future puts you in this private first-class transport pod

No more expensive parking. No more security lines. No more delayed flights. No more screaming children.

Volvo envisions a future where motorists travel in private, business-class-like pods instead of flying. The Swedish firm has introduced an innovative concept car named 360c that sheds insight into how autonomous driving technology can replace many domestic short-haul flights.

The 360c concept looks like a car in the sense that it has lights, wheels, and bumpers on both ends. Everything else comes right out of the next century.

“We do not know what the future of autonomous drive will hold, but it will have a profound impact on how people travel …”

The top part of it is made almost entirely of tinted glass to give the passengers an unobstructed view of the world around them. It’s hardly recognizable as a Volvo product; only styling cues like the curved rear panel create a visual link to current members of the company’s lineup like the XC40 and the V90 Cross Country.

Volvo stresses the 360c is autonomous and electric. It’s designed to be software-driven 100 percent of the time, meaning there is no need for a steering wheel, pedals, or a dashboard. Its electric powertrain is more compact than a comparable gasoline-powered unit so designers carved out a generous amount of space in a relatively restrained footprint. This yields a modular interior that can be configured as a high-tech meeting room with a motion-controlled presentation board, a relaxing living room with book shelves, an entertainment space with a built-in champagne cooler, or a cozy bedroom with a mini closet.

The last configuration opens up the possibility of traveling overnight instead of flying. Users can conceivably get in the car, enter a destination, and fall asleep until they reach it. The 360c drives itself smoothly and quietly. Volvo adds it even designed a special safety blanket that restrains the occupant like a three-point seatbelt in the event of a collision.

“The sleeping cabin allows you to enjoy premium comfort and peaceful travel through the night and wake up refreshed at your destination. It could enable us to compete with the world’s leading aircraft makers,” explained Mårten Levenstam, the company’s senior vice president of corporate strategy, in a statement.

Make no mistake: the 360c is a look into the distant future of transportation. It’s not what you’ll be commuting in a year from now; there are still several legal and technical questions to answer before a concept like this becomes a mass-produced reality. Technology progresses at a rapid pace, however, and it’s not too far-fetched to imagine vehicles like the 360c transporting passengers on short routes like New York City to Washington DC or Los Angeles to San Diego.

When? That’s a good question; Volvo hopes its newest concept will start the conversation.

“We do not know what the future of autonomous drive will hold, but it will have a profound impact on how people travel, how we design our cities and how we use infrastructure. We regard the 360c as a conversation starter, with more ideas and answers to come as we learn more,” Levenstam explained.

Volvo notably wants to start the conversation about the types of interaction autonomous cars should have with the human-driven ones they’ll need to share the road with. The 360c emits visual and audible signals to tell other drivers and pedestrians what it’s about to do. The firm notes that, significantly, the concept makes its own intentions clear without giving orders to other self-driving cars or human drivers. Preliminary research shows that’s the safest way for autonomous cars to communicate with fellow road users.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Insect drones and kinetic sculpture robots

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's fun to gawk!
Gaming

The best iOS games you can play offline on your iPhone and iPad

Even though we're always glued to our phones, we don't always have access to Wi-Fi or have steady service. Whether you're on a flight, riding the bus, or sitting in a waiting room, you can always play these excellent iOS games.
Product Review

Want an electric car that doesn't look like an electric car? Meet Audi's E-Tron

The 2019 Audi E-Tron is the German automaker’s first series-production electric car. Rather than make a bold statement with its first electric vehicle, Audi chose to make the E-Tron as much like its other cars as possible.
Cars

Semi-autonomous and always available: A peek into the near future of car rental

Soon we will see connected rental fleets with a dedicated lane at airports for self-driving cars, where drivers control the car to the airport, and then the empty car drives itself to the rental lot.
Home Theater

Walmart’s deal on Samsung’s 58-inch 4K TV drops the price under $450

If a 60-inch 4K TV is a little too large for your living room, and a 55-inch a tad too small, then look no further than this 58-inch Samsung, which is now on sale for $200 off at Walmart.
Cars

Ford gears up to build rugged, capable hybrid trucks and SUVs

Ford is planning to put hybrid powertrains into big trucks and SUVs, and doesn't want to sacrifice things like towing capacity and off-road capability. A new hybrid system may help do that.
Cars

Walmart slashes prices on electric hybrid bicycles for National Bike Month

Electric bikes can be economical, convenient, and fun. Heading into summer, Walmart slashed the prices for two pedal-assist Hyper E-ride Mountain and City Electric Hybrid Bikes by 40%. We found a variety of e-rides for under $1,000.
Cars

GM thinks up new electronic brain for its cars, allowing over-the-air updates

General Motors is launching a new electrical architecture to support more tech features in its cars. The system debuts on the 2020 Cadillac CT5, and will roll out to most other GM models by 2023.
Cars

Ford aluminum truck beds prove haters wrong, are cheaper to repair than steel

Repair costs were a major concern for truck buyers when Ford launched its aluminum F-150. But insurance data indicates that, if anything, the F-150 may be cheaper to repair than traditional steel trucks.
Cars

Mercedes-Benz safety-car concept monitors the road ahead and your kids

The Mercedes-Benz Experimental Safety Vehicle 2019 was designed for a world where humans and machines share driving duties. It can use lights to communicate with other road users and even monitor an infant's vital signs.
Cars

GM hits reverse with Maven carsharing as it closes service in eight cities

GM-owned Maven will close its carsharing service in 8 of the 17 North American cities where it currently operates. Competing with the likes of Zipcar and Car2Go, the app-based service offers car rental by the hour or day.
Cars

Crisp and connected, the Volkswagen Golf will get a digital reboot in 2020

Volkswagen is putting the final touches on the eighth-generation Golf. The hatchback will still be recognizable as a member of the Golf family, but it will receive a crisper design inside and out.
Cars

With Tesla bleeding money, Elon Musk initiates hardcore spending review

After posting a sizable $700 million loss in the first quarter of 2019, Tesla announced it will review every expense, no matter the size, to keep spending in check. Company CEO Elon Musk will personally approve every 10th expense page.
Cars

Bosch sensors used in Skywalker’s lightsaber will keep flying taxis in the air

Bosch wants to help companies make flying taxis a reality. Aviation technology is too big and too expensive to power a flying taxi, so the German firm is developing a universal control unit using smaller, cheaper sensors already used in…