Volvo is developing an entertainment system that takes full advantage of driverless car technology.
Called Concept 26, the project is designed to be integrated into future autonomous vehicles and has multiple modes depending on whether the driver is in control or not.
When the car is in manual mode, the interior reflects that of any modern vehicle. However, when the driver wishes to delegate driving to the car, the steering wheel retracts, the seat reclines and a large display emerges from the dashboard.
This allows the driver to enjoy media facilities such as music and film while the car takes them to their destination.
Volvo said that Concept 26 ‘embraces the need for radical change of the basic design of car interiors’ in the light of upcoming autonomous driving technology.
“It’s all about people. Our research clearly shows that some people will want to use their commuting time creatively when they have full autonomous drive available, while others will want to just sit back and relax, watch online media or listen to music,” said Robin Page, vice president of interior design at Volvo Cars.
“Autonomous drive will make all of this possible. This is what Concept 26 has captured by reimagining the entire car experience.”
Concept 26 is named as such because the average daily commute to work takes 26 minutes, time that could be spent more enjoyably than current vehicles allow, Volvo believes.
Volvo is currently working on its ‘Drive Me’ research project, which is looking into autonomous driving in a similar fashion to companies like Google and Nissan.
The company hopes that an extended fleet of fully autonomous cars driving real customers will be on the roads of Gothenburg in Sweden by 2017.
The company believes that its driverless technology is so robust and safe that it will assume responsibility for any accidents that occur.
Dr Peter Mertens, R&D vice president at Volvo said: “Volvo Cars is among the first to address the subject of self-driving cars and liability.
“We firmly believe that car makers should take full responsibility for the actions of the car when it is driving in full autonomous mode. If a manufacturer does not accept liability it clearly implies that they are not confident about their autonomous drive technology.”
Nissan recently demonstrated its attempts at a self-driving vehicle, although many of the first drivers noted the system’s cautious driving style.