Concept 26: Watch Volvo’s vision of our self-driving future

Volvo has just unveiled Concept 26, a project which sheds light on just how we’ll use an autonmous cars. Concept 26 gets its name from the average commute time in the US, and demonstrates how Volvo thinks we’ll use self-driving cars on a day-to-day basis. 

It says the main idea behind the concept is 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.”

Interestingly, Volvo’s announcement of Concept 26 comes on the same week it announced a tech-partnership with Microsoft. Starting from next year, the Swedish company plans to use Microsoft’s AR headset to improve the retail experience. 

Drive, Create and Relax

Although it looks like a normal car interior, Concept 26 has three distinct modes – Drive, Create and Relax – each designed to reflect the driver’s mood. When in autonomous Relax mode, the steering wheel retracts, the driver’s seat reclines and a large display folds out on the passenger side. The result? The driver lets the car do the work, but can easily return to the controls if needed.

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“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.”

New possibilities

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Although autonomous technology itself is the current focus of self-driving cars, it’s only the catalyst for a larger change in how we’ll use the car. Without the permanent need to drive, the space inside a car is now open to a wealth of new possibilities. What those will be, and whether they’ll extend to something more than just a large screen and reclining seats, remains to be seen.

Read next: How far away are we REALLY from autonomous cars?

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