Volvo Cars says 360c concept is an alternative to short-haul air travel

Article by Christian A., on September 6, 2018

Volvo Cars is presenting a new concept car that provides a glimpse of what the company envisions for the future of mobility. With this new concept car called 360c, Volvo Cars is essentially proposing that a fully autonomous land travel could replace air travel over long distances.

A fully autonomous concept is nothing new. Quite a number of concepts like this have been presented through the past years. But while other concepts offer a living space inside a fully autonomous, Volvo’s study -- the new Volvo 360c autonomous concept – allows its passengers to sleep like a log inside while being transported to their destinations.

The new Volvo 360c isn't just a fully autonomous car, is it also connected and electric. It is in this future that Volvo sees a holistic approach in terms of travel. As a fully autonomous, fully electric car, the 360c doesn’t have steering wheel and an internal combustion engine. Because of the absence of these components, passengers could be positioned in rows of two or three.

Volvo says the 360c provides a glimpse of how autonomous driving vehicles can be used: as a sleeping environment; as a mobile office; as a living space; or as an entertainment room.

According to Volvo, the 360c imagines world where airports are not needed. This means no more going through airport security, having to queue for hours, and sitting on a cramped aircraft. Instead, the 360c offers a great alternative – a first-class private cabin that picks its passengers from one place and takes them to another.

Essentially, the 360c can be an alternative to short-haul air travel, especially in shorter routes of around 300 kilometers. Volvo says that air travel in these routes makes passengers consume more time, when factors like travel to the airport, security checks and waiting times are taken into account.

Since the Volvo 360c comes with a sleeping cabin that allows a passenger to sleep through the night while being taken to his or her destination, Volvo says this concept could compete with the leading aircraft makers in the world.

Robin Page, senior vice president of design at Volvo Cars, remarked that the carmaker focuses on the daily lives of customers and how to make these better, and the 360c represents the next iteration of this approach.

While Volvo’s 360c autonomous concept presents an alternative approach to short-haul air travel, it essentially doesn’t take into account traffic congestion on the land. Volvo does say that the travelling to the airport takes time, but its 360c concept isn't really exempted to the worsening traffic congestion in urban areas. It travels by land, which means it is also subjected to any situation non-autonomous, non-electric suffers on the road.

Press Release

Volvo Cars’ new 360c autonomous concept: why fly when you can be driven?

Imagine a world in which you travel long distances without the need for airports. A world in which you can avoid airport security, hours of queuing and waiting, and noisy, cramped airliners. What if, instead, you could take your own first-class private cabin that picks you up at home and takes you from door to door?

It is this vision for the future of autonomous travel that Volvo Cars reveals today with its new Volvo 360c concept, a holistic view of a future of travel that is autonomous, electric, connected and safe. It could open up new growth markets for Volvo Cars, for example in the multi-billion dollar domestic air travel industry.

The basis of the 360c is a fully autonomous, fully electric car without a human driver. The concept capitalises on the freedom in design afforded by the absence of a steering wheel and a combustion engine, providing the ability to reimagine the traditional placement of passengers in rows of two or three.

The 360c presents four potential uses of autonomous driving vehicles – a sleeping environment, mobile office, living room and entertainment space – which all reimagine the way people travel. It also introduces a proposal for a global standard in how autonomous vehicles can safely communicate with all other road users.

“The business will change in the coming years and Volvo should lead that change of our industry,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars. “Autonomous drive will allow us to take the big next step in safety but also open up exciting new business models and allow consumers to spend time in the car doing what they want to do.”

The 360c represents a potentially lucrative competitor to short-haul air travel, a multi-billion dollar industry comprising airlines, aircraft makers and other service providers. Especially shorter routes where the distance between origin and destination is around 300 kilometres are prime candidates for disruption by an alternative mode of travel.

For example, within the United States over 740 million travellers embarked on domestic flights last year and America’s domestic air travel industry is worth billions of dollars in revenue. Several busy domestic air routes, such as New York to Washington DC, Houston to Dallas and Los Angeles to San Diego, are more time-consuming by air than by car when including things such as travel to the airport, security checks and waiting times.

“Domestic air travel sounds great when you buy your ticket, but it really isn’t. The 360c represents what could be a whole new take on the industry,” said Mårten Levenstam, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Volvo Cars. “The sleeping cabin allows you to enjoy premium comfort and peaceful travel through the night and wake up refreshed at your destination. It could enable us to compete with the world’s leading aircraft makers.”

Beyond new potential customer groups for Volvo Cars’ business, the 360c also carries implications for the future of travel, city planning, infrastructure and modern society’s environmental footprint. It does not just reimagine how people travel but also looks at how people engage with friends and family while on the move, and how they can recapture time while travelling in the cities of the future.

“Autonomous vehicle concepts have a tendency to become a technology showcase instead of a vision of how people use it,” said 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.”

The 360c is a first yet deliberate step towards a broad discussion about the potential for autonomous driving technology to fundamentally change society in many ways.

“When the Wright brothers took to the skies in 1903, they did not have a clue about what modern air travel would look like,” said Mårten Levenstam. “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.”

Source: Volvo

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