This is the Volvo Concept 26, an interior design that shows how the interior of one of the Swedish brand’s luxury models could look in the future.
The LA motor show concept’s name is designed to reflect the average daily commute to work, which lasts for 26 minutes, and Volvo-commissioned research that shows this journey, and long-haul motorway runs, are the trips drivers would most like the car to take control of. The firm says it has set out to “bring choice and freedom back to the driver - to enjoy the driving experience when they want to, or to delegate driving to the car when they want to do something else”.
The core of Concept 26 is a seat design which includes some patented mechanisms, according to the manufacturer, that hold the occupant in place while the car switches between three modes: Drive, Create or Relax. In Drive, the layout is conventional, but in the other two modes the steering wheel retracts into the dashboard and a large screen emerges to be used for infotainment or work.
Tisha Johnson, chief designer for Volvo interiors, said: “We researched what people would want to do in a car, and reconfigured the interior to allow them to do different things behind the wheel."
To engage autonomous mode you hold the steering wheel paddles, then the countdown begins for you to retake the controls at the end of the journey, allowing you to plan your time on the trip. There are configurations for the seat, tablet and screens that allow you to do a range of activities, and you can re-engage the controls by selecting Drive mode again.
While in autonomous mode, the car communicates to the driver what it is doing – such as passing a car – and allows you to take back controls. “This is an important part of building trust,” according to Johnson.
“We want to retake the time lost to the driver on a commute," Johnson added. "We can do this using today’s technology and platforms. Soon, autonomous driving will be a part of people’s lives and we have intuitive, safe, beautiful solutions."
Cues from the interior design are expected to influence future Volvos, including the upcoming S90 luxury saloon. The concept has been created with measurements and technology from the company’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), which will underpin all of its large models.
Volvo’s vice-president of R&D, Peter Mertens, said: “We have gone to great lengths to understand the challenges and opportunities that autonomous cars will bring to people in coming years, and our flexible approach to engineering and design, enabled by our SPA, means that we can readily bring this from concept to reality.”