LOS ANGELES -- Volvo isn't using theto show off its next big passenger car. Instead, the brand is aiming just a bit further down the road -- autonomous cars.
The automaker's using its time in California to debut the Concept 26, an interior-design study that gives us a hint at the sort of versatility we can expect from a car that can be both driven and not driven, depending on the driver's mood.
Concept 26 utilizes the Scalable Product Architecture platform that underpins the brand's all-new XC90 crossover, as well as several forthcoming Volvo cars, including an all-new flagship that should be appearing in the near future. Thus, it's not inconceivable to imagine that the meat and potatoes of this concept could appear on the market relatively soon, once autonomous technology allows for a truly driver-free experience.
"Volvo Concept 26 addresses the notion that driving can still be fun and liberating on the right day and on the right road, but that some parts of driving, notably the daily commute in many metro areas, is stress, frustrating, and even broken," said Anders Tylman-Mikiewicz, general manager of the Volvo design center that built this concept.
The point of the concept is to show that a car's interior can be as versatile as the owner, moving between autonomy and piloted driving quickly, efficiently and, perhaps most importantly, using a great deal of current technology. It utilizes several components, including a tablet interface, a foldable tray table and a 25-inch monitor that hides in the passenger-side dashboard, to switch between three different interior arrangements: Drive, Create and Relax.
Drive is pretty self-explanatory. The seats are arranged like a modern car, since the driver will remain in control of the vehicle. Create is all about getting work done, whether that's reading, consuming media or breaking out the laptop to finish up some last-minute PowerPoint slides.
Relax is all about enjoying the drive, with the driver's seat moving to a reclined position while the car's computer suggests different things to watch on the aforementioned 25-inch monitor.
Concept 26 is one of the first autonomous concepts to be designed with a current platform in mind. It acknowledges that there will be plenty of time between now and fully fledged self-driving cars where humans will desire a little bit of everything. Not everybody is keen to give up driving, and Volvo's design study reflects that.
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