September 20, 2018
From A to B to 360c
But what if your car did so much more? What if your car didn’t just take you from home to work to play, but rather was home, work or play whenever you needed it to be? And what if a car could be a credible alternative to domestic air travel? That would be a game changer. And that’s exactly what we at Volvo Cars are imagining with the 360c, which recently made its debut to world media.
Watch the highlights from our media event.
The 360c is a fully autonomous, fully electric car without a human driver. The concept focuses on the totally new design opportunities that come from the absence of a steering wheel and a combustion engine. With this, our designers have reimagined the traditional placement of passengers in rows of two or three.
“The Volvo 360 Concept is really an exploration of design possibilities, of what a fully autonomous, fully electric car could bring,” said Robin Page, head of design at Volvo Cars.
“We wanted to explore how fully autonomous vehicles fit into the needs of people, and how we can bring quality time back into our customers’ lives.”
This autonomy is the key to reclaiming that crucial time on the road.
“Autonomous drive will be a ground-breaking technology,” says Håkan Samuelsson, CEO and president of Volvo Cars. “First of all, it enables Volvo to take the next big step when it comes to safety, but it also enables our consumers to spend hours in the car doing something else than just sitting driving.”
Adaptable to your needs
With autonomy, electrification and safety at its core, the 360c is based on one platform and one exterior design, but with four interior configurations that offer passengers a totally different take on travel. Volvo Cars imagines having all four available to customers through a subscription service, so they can request the car that best fits their needs at that moment.
The first configuration covers your commute to work. Imagine a world where a 360c picks you up from your house, having already fetched breakfast from your favourite café, and takes you to work while you catch up on the news on TV.
Rather than time being lost to traffic in between meetings, the second configuration of the 360c is set out as a compact office. The car picks you and your client up, having already fetched fresh coffee, and allows you to project presentations on the side walls and windows, work from a seamless internet connection, and dial in other colleagues.
With all the work done in record time, you’ve got the freedom to let your hair down, and the 360c is ready to take you and your friends out in style, with music, lights, and chilled champagne at the ready.
Why fly when you can take the car?
But it’s the fourth interior option that really pushes the boundaries of innovation and imagination.
“The fourth configuration, which for me is the most interesting,” says Robin Page, “is actually an alternative to air travel. Imagine a vehicle that picks you up from your home or work, and takes you directly to your destination in another city for the next day.”
Mårten Levenstam, senior vice president of product strategy and business ownership at Volvo Cars, is just as excited about the 360c’s potential as an alternative to traditional air travel and the possibility of new markets for Volvo Cars.
“Domestic air travel sounds good when you book your ticket. In reality it’s a hassle going through the airport, and you spend more time getting in to the plane than being on the plane. The 360c represents what could be a whole new take on the industry,” says Mårten Levenstam.
Instead of facing waking up in the wee hours of the morning to catch flights, queuing in airports for hours, and being crammed into overcrowded planes, the 360c sleeper configuration imagines a way to arrive in a new city totally refreshed. The sleeper car offers a comfortable flat bed for passengers to enjoy a full night’s sleep in their own private space while it drives you straight to your next destination.
Communication is Key
Passengers in the 360c can travel with peace of mind, with the knowledge that it handles autonomous drive safely by ensuring that all its intentions are clearly communicated to the outside world via its light displays, sounds and movement. This communication system replaces the subtle but oh so important eye contact that is a staple of today’s traffic situation.
“We strongly believe this communication method should be a universal standard, so all road users can communicate easily with any autonomous car, regardless of which maker built it,” said Malin Ekholm, head of Volvo Cars safety centre. “But it is also important that the car doesn’t instruct other road-users what to do next, in order to avoid potential confusion. Our research shows this is the safest way for fully autonomous cars to communicate with other road users.”
While the 360c is hugely exciting and offers a peek at how Volvo Cars can play a leading role in reimagining travel, Mårten Levenstam maintains that we have many steps left before imagination becomes reality and he sees the concept car as a conversation starter around the future of autonomous travel.
“When the Wright Brothers invented aviation in 1903, they could not possibly have imagined the future of air travel, but they started something. I view the 360c as more like the Wright Flyer than the final solution. It will be a starting point for something totally different.”