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LA show: Volvo previews interior of the future

Ahhh: Three-way reclining seats are designed to complement autonomous driving. The steering wheel also retracts completely.

Volvo's Concept 26 imagines a new age for commuters

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20 Nov 2015

IT MIGHT look like a meditation tank from a James Bond villain’s lair, but Volvo's ongoing vision of a driverless future has seen its designers come up with a concept of what the interior of your autonomous car might look like by 2020.

Known as Concept 26, it is based around a new – and patented – three-way seat design. The '26' comes from the amount of time in minutes that Volvo reckons the average person spends in their car commuting between home and work each way.

“It’s all about people,” said Volvo Cars vice president of interior design Robin Page. “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.

“Autonomous drive will make all of this possible. This is what Concept 26 has captured by reimagining the entire car experience.”

The driver’s seat can be set into one of three modes: Drive, Create or Relax.

When the driver decides that the car can do all the work, the steering wheel retracts, the seat reclines and a large display emerges from the car's dash.

The driver can then set the seat into Create mode, allowing access to the screen, or Relax mode, which reclines the seat further.

While no specifics about the multimedia system were provided, existing hotspot technologies would basically allow Volvo free reign when it came to implementing software for work or leisure pursuits, as well as operator- and GPS-assisted service functions.

Gesture and verbal control, additional screens and more could also be implemented.

The premise behind the concept, according to Volvo, is to display the kinds of radical rethinking required for the interiors of autonomous vehicles.

“We have gone to great lengths to understand the challenges and opportunities that autonomous cars will bring to people in coming years,” said Volvo Car Group senior vice president of research and development Peter Mertens.

“Our flexible approach to engineering and design, enabled by our new Scalable Product Architecture, means that we can readily bring this from concept to reality.”

Meanwhile, Volvo is set to roll out a fleet of fully autonomous cars to customers in the Swedish city of Gothenburg from 2017. Known as the Drive Me project, the company has already tested a fully autonomous XC90 on public roads in Adelaide.

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