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.

Product Review

2019 Volkswagen Jetta offers German refinement and tech at an affordable price

With enough tech to make villains jealous, the Volkswagen Jetta punches above its class as a forward-thinking sedan. Spacious, comfortable, and efficient, the Jetta is a refined offering. German refinement comes with a serious attitude.
Product Review

The Ferrari Portofino is the super stallion you’ll want to drive every day

With the introduction of the Portofino, Ferrari addresses the California T’s stylistic shortcomings while improving comfort, convenience, and performance. There’s little “entry-level” about this super stallion.

Volvo wants to use speed limiters, in-car cameras, and data to reduce crashes

Volvo believes new tech is the best way to improve car safety. The Swedish automaker will let owners set speed limits when loaning out their cars, install cameras to monitor drivers, and use data to design better safety features.
Product Review

Who needs a Range Rover? BMW’s X7 has better tech and just as much luxury

The 2019 BMW X7 is the German automaker’s long-overdue entry into the full-size luxury SUV segment. Packing three rows of seats and plenty of tech, can the new BMW take on Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover?

Protect yourself and your ride 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.

Tesla revives its referral program with chances to win a Roadster

Tesla has revived its referral program that ended in February because of cost pressures. This time around the perks aren't quite as diverse, though it does offer regular chances to win a Roadster or Model Y.

From cars to computers: How data is transforming F1 racing

After a single weekend of racing, a Formula 1 pit crew typically pulls around 2TB of data from the car. Everything, from tire pressure to the temperature of the track, is recorded and analyzed in the name of boosting performance -- and not…

Tesla ends scheduled servicing because electric cars need less maintenance

Tesla will longer offer scheduled maintenance plans, switching to an "as needed" model. This reflects the fact that electric cars need less regular maintenance than gasoline or diesel cars.

The go kart-like Mini Cooper will soon add zero emissions to its resume

Mini is in the final stages of developing an electric version of the Cooper. The 2020 Cooper SE will receive powertrain components from the BMW i3, including a 181-horsepower electric motor and battery technology.
Product Review

By adding features, tech, and all-wheel drive, Mazda puts the 3 in a class of one

Since its introduction in 2003, Mazda’s compact Mazda3 has been a mainstay of the brand’s driver-oriented strategy. Mazda now plans to move upmarket, and the all-new 2019 Mazda3 offers some clues about how that’s going to work.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

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!

Tesla Model 3 vulnerability exposed at Pwn2Own; hackers take home the car

A Tesla Model 3 vulnerability was exposed at the Pwn2Own hacking competition. The hackers, who were able to display a message on the electric vehicle's internet browser, won $35,000 and took home the car.

Is this electric car startup the next Tesla, or will it go the way of Coda?

The electric car startup formerly known as EVelozcity has changed its name to Canoo. It also announced a lineup of four cars including a commuter-friendly model and a lifestyle-oriented car. Its first electric vehicles will begin to appear…

Ford’s born-again Bronco off-roader will soothe your 1990s nostalgia

Ford confirmed it will bring the Bronco back to American showrooms in 2020. We haven't seen the truck yet, but dealers who got a preview of it during a private event say it's a true off-roader aimed directly at the Jeep Wrangler.