Volvo’s new autonomous concept the 360c doesn’t tell us how self-driving cars in the future will work, but rather how people will use them. Volvo recently unveiled its vision of the future in the form of a concept vehicle it calls the 360c. It’s not an operational Level 5 (total autonomy) car, but it is what Volvo imagineers think such a car might look like.
Containing no steering wheel nor pedals, the fully electric 360c removes a driver from the equation. Eliminating the driver freed Volvo designers to create a passenger environment strictly for the comfort and specific needs of its ride-along occupants. At the 360c reveal, Volvo introduced four different environments: Mobile office, living room, entertainment center and sleeping berth.
One use specifically identified in a written release for the 360c’s reveal will be as a replacement for short domestic flights between key destinations, such as New York City and Washington D.C. or Dallas and Houston, Texas. Factoring commuting to the airport, parking, passing through security and gate wait times, such trips by air are often more time-consuming than driving by car. Volvo states that its 360c can not only remove the stress associated with air travel, but also provide an environment in which a traveler can catch up on work or nap during the trip.
Hakan Samuelsson president and CEO of Volvo Cars summed up what he sees as Volvo’s future in a world of self-driving cars: "It’s really about going from selling cars into delivering mobility services to our customers."
There’s still a long way to go before the Volvo 360c and similar driverless vehicles are a reality, but it reveals a lot about where this carmaker thinks we’re headed.