Volvo Offers Drivers An Autonomous Vehicle Alternative To Air Travel

Volvo Offers Drivers An Autonomous Vehicle Alternative To Air Travel
Automotive

With a cabin that rivals a first class seat, Volvo's latest concept car is designed to be an efficient and more convenient alternative to short-distance airline flights

Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 28 september 2018

What’s the worst thing about airline travel? Coming to an answer likely doesn’t taken much effort. It might be having to arrive hours early for a flight, the long queues and wait times or having to meticulously arrange belongings in plastic bins at security. Volvo is aiming to solve this common pain point, creating a concept car that might one day eliminate the need for short-distance domestic airline flights.

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This is the Volvo 360c. It’s a sleek looking concept car from the outside, complete with a vertical illuminated tail fins—a possible styling nod to the jet aircraft it aims to replace. With all the futuristic self-driving vehicle concepts that design studios of auto manufacturers have been churning out lately, it’s understandable to dismiss the 360c as another example of a design exercise for a hypothetical future.

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Admittedly, that thought did cross the minds of the team at Volvo. “Autonomous vehicle concepts have a tendency to become a technology showcase instead of a vision of how people use it,” says Robin Page, senior vice president of design at Volvo Cars. “But Volvo is a human-centric brand. We focus on the daily lives of our customers and how we can make them better. The 360c is the next iteration of this approach.”

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What Volvo is proposing with the 360c is a self-driving vehicle alternative to domestic flights of around 200 miles or less. The interior has been designed to mimic the functions of a first-class airline seat in one configuration. So conceivably, a 360c could be hailed in the evening in New York City and the passenger could recline the seat into a lay-flat bed. The car would take over and drive through the night to arrive in Washington, D.C. early the next morning.

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Integrated into the design of the interior are several storage drawers and bins. One possible scenario the 360c might operate from is by a luxury hotel. A fleet of 360c’s could be maintained by a hotel and sent out to pick up travelers already stocked with items they may need on a trip including a meal and cocktails.

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Volvo’s interest in developing an autonomous vehicle alternative to shorter-distance airline flights is based on numbers. In the U.S., 740 million travelers embarked on domestic flights during 2017 and America’s domestic air travel industry is worth billions of dollars in revenue according to Volvo. City-hopping flights like NYC to Boston, Dallas to Houston and L.A. to San Diego could be traveled in a car in about the same time as a flight when the trip to the airport, security checks and waiting times are added on. The 360c could offer amenities that rival a first class seat within a personal space that can depart on a trip at any time.

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The chances of hailing a 360c for a trip soon are pretty much zero. But Mårten Levenstam, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Volvo Cars, says the brand isn’t giving up on the idea or the opportunity. “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.”

Volvo

What’s the worst thing about airline travel? Coming to an answer likely doesn’t taken much effort. It might be having to arrive hours early for a flight, the long queues and wait times or having to meticulously arrange belongings in plastic bins at security. Volvo is aiming to solve this common pain point, creating a concept car that might one day eliminate the need for short-distance domestic airline flights.

volvo_360c_autonomous_concept_2.jpg

+Automotive
+Autonomous
+brand activation & immersion
+flight
+hospitality & travel
+hotels
+packaging & product engagement
+post purchase & service
+travel
+volvo

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