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Volkswagen concept previews tomorrow’s driverless rental pods

Volkswagen has made a radical concept designed to preview a future in which mobility-as-a-service vehicles drive themselves.

The Volkswagen Gen.Travel concept is a design study – and a real prototype – that it says “gives a realistic outlook for the mobility of the coming decade”.

Aspects of the concept are expected to be “transferred to series vehicles”, Volkswagen added, by which it means future road cars.

This far-out concept is partly a publicity exercise, with the Volkswagen Group to present its latest autonomous driving research vehicle at the Chantilly Arts & Elegance this week.

It previews an interior that can be customised, ideal for future Level 5 autonomous vehicles that will be booked for occasional use in a future where car-sharing is more common.

The transparent, glass cabin bolsters the view of the outside, and the wing doors offer easier entry and exit.

“The car’s modular interior concept makes it a flexible, sustainable Mobility-as-a-Service alternative to short-haul flights,” Volkswagen contends. Or trains?

For business trips there’s the conference setup with four comfy seats and a table in the middle, while dynamic lighting is designed to mitigate kinetosis or motion sickness.

Meanwhile a configuration in the overnight setup enables the conversion of two seats into two beds, like a business class plane seat.

Volkswagen claims a new passenger restraint system ensures safety even for those in a lying position, while this time the lighting system influences melatonin production in your body.

For family trips there is an in-car entertainment system using augmented reality features, details on which are scarce.

The concept also has electric Active Body Control suspension that calculates vertical and lateral movements such as acceleration, braking, or cornering ahead of time, and optimises the car’s driving style and trajectory accordingly.

Artificial intelligence and platooning – fully autonomous driving in convoys – have been factored in to further increase the range for long-distance journeys, Volkswagen adds.

Head of Volkswagen Group Design Klaus Zyciora says the concept “offers us a glimpse of the travel of the future”.

“It shows us what autonomous driving will look like in the future. The Gen-Travel embodies the visionary design of beyond tomorrow for the mobility of tomorrow,” he added.

“Efficient shaping characterises the extremely distinctive design. Thus, in an age of technical perfection and virtually unlimited possibilities, ‘form follows function’ becomes ‘form follows freedom’. The automobile will not only be better, but also more exciting than ever before.”

That is probably in the eye of the beholder…




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