Driving on Auto-Pilot: 13 Future Visions of Cars & Commuting
By Steph, Web Urbanist, 11 January 2016.
By Steph, Web Urbanist, 11 January 2016.
Within fifteen years we could be zooming around in flying passenger drones and self-driving luxury pods, and claiming packages from driverless delivery trucks that verify our identities by scanning our faces. At least, that’s what Mercedes-Benz, BMW and other automakers and designers seem to be hoping with these optimistically futuristic concept car designs - and while it might realistically take a lot longer than that to see real, functioning flying cars, some seemingly far-out ideas are already on their way.
1. Passenger Drone
As if the idea of self-driving cars on the roads weren’t already nerve-wracking enough, soon passengers might be able to take to the skies without a pilot on-board. A Chinese startup called Ehang unveiled the world’s first passenger done, an Autonomous Aerial Vehicle that can carry one person and a single backpack for about twenty minutes from one location to another, with the destination set via tablet before take-off. The 440-pound drone folds up its propellers to fit within a standard parking spot.
What happens if something malfunctions? The company says the drone can still fly with a propeller out, and will land in the nearest possible area if anything goes wrong.
2. Self-Driving Chevrolet-FNR
A world away from Google’s dorky self-driving bubble car, the Chevrolet-FNR by General Motors envisions the autonomous commuting future circa 2030.
The front seats rotate to face the rear, and the interior is packed full of touch-screens, with iris-recognition entry, crystal laser lights and “magnetic hubbies wheel electric motors.” The “dragonfly dual-wing doors” are so sharp, they look dangerous.
3. Mercedes-Benz F 015
While the FNR isn’t exactly ready to actually hit the road, the similarly driverless Mercedes-Benz F 015 is already roaming San Francisco.
This sleek and shiny luxury pod is part of Mercedes’ vision for a safer future in which all cars are unmanned, automatically stop to let pedestrians cross the road, and let all passengers read, text, surf the web or whatever it is humans will be doing on gadgets in 2030.
The company still has a long way to go in ironing out the tech involved in this project, but the proof of concept is impressive.
4. Self-Driving IDEO
The first of three self-driving vehicle concepts by global design company IDEO interacts with your email, calendar and text messages to set your route and senses when you’re 200 feet away, firing up and preparing for your ride. As you head down the freeway, your car will link up with other cars moving in the same direction, joining a ‘platoon’ of tailgating vehicles for speed and safety.
5. WorkOnWheels Commuting Workspace Pod
IDEO’s second concept is WorkOnWheels, a transparent mobile office pod that zooms around the city, either acting as an automated place to complete tasks while you’re on your way to your workplace or zooming to the scenic setting of your choice. You can take your team on a brainstorming session by the sea, park in a bustling urban spot to observe city life or whatever else you can dream up. The pods are rentable by the hour and drive themselves back to their home base to recharge when you’re done.
6. Cody Self-Driving Delivery Truck
Nicknamed ‘Cody,’ this delivery truck apparently intends to put the fear of obsolescence into UPS drivers, couriers and the like. A vacuum-powered surface inside stabilizes packages, while a robotic arm sorts them. Not going to be at home to receive your shipment? Cody lets you track its location in real time and request new destinations, like your office. No worries about strangers stealing your stuff, because in order to retrieve your packages, the truck will have to scan your face.
7. Faraday Future FFZERO1
It’s no mistake that this insane-looking concept car by Faraday Future looks a bit like a fighter jet; it’s got four electric motors delivering more than 1,000 horsepower and reaches a top speed of 200mph.
But this isn’t a car that you’ll have to drop over US$100K on to own - the idea is to make it available by subscription, so you can order the car to your door whenever you want it.
8. Aptera 2e
The pure-electric Aptera 2e was developed to prototype form by Aptera Motors before it went out of business in 2011, and now it’s making a comeback via China’s Jonway Group.
Lightweight and aerodynamic, this three-wheeled car gets a fuel economy of over 100mpg, and could end up being available in a gas version, too.
9. BMW GINA Light Visionary Model
How safe is a car made of cloth? Suffice to say that BMW is sending its GINA Light Visionary Model, with seamless fabric stretched over a moving metal frame, straight to its museum in Munich without ever attempting to put it into production.
But though this vehicle might not ever become reality, it is intended to plant a seed for visionary automotive designs that think way outside the current standards for building cars.
The combination of the stretchy water-resistant fabric skin and hydraulic aluminium frame enables the driver to change the exterior however they want, custom-shaping the body to their specifications.
10. LM2 Streamliner
The LM2 Streamliner by American manufacturer Lyons Motor Car Ltd looks at the FFZERO1’s 200mph limit and says, ‘Isn’t that cute.’ This weird-looking carbon fibre blade of a vehicle reaches 290mph with a 1,700 horsepower twin-turbo DOHC V8 engine, and all of its systems are programmable via mobile device.
Not everyone is a fan of its appearance, with one Designboom commenter remarking, “Superfast, so you can get to places soon and leave it in the bushes and take a cab so you arrive in style.”
11. Lexus RC F
The futuristic flair of the Lexus RC F has less to do with the car itself and more with a cool stunt the automaker Lexus pulled when promoting it, coating it in biometric paint that connects to the driver’s heart rate sensor.
This results in a projection of the “heartbeat of the car,” reflecting how the experience of driving it at its full capabilities affects the person behind the wheel. Perhaps in the age of driverless cars, vehicles can afford to be a little more visually distracting.
12. Terrafugia Driverless Flying Car
Okay, so maybe we haven’t gotten flying cars nearly as soon as Back to the Future and Bladerunner promised, but there’s still hope that personal aircraft could be a thing that really happens before 2050 or so, especially if Terrafugia keeps up its R&D on fixed-wing, street-legal aircrafts you can store in your garage next to your earth-bound car.
The TF-X model can plug into electric car charging stations, auto-land at approved sites when the weather is rough, and navigate obstacles in the air. It carries four passengers and has a non-stop flight range of roughly 500 miles.
Drive it like a car on the roads and then take off vertically from any level clearing measuring at least 100 feet in diameter.
13. Lane splitter Concept Car
Start your ride in Lane splitter Concept Car, a two-person car with a companion by your side, and then split off into your own closed-top motorcycle when you need to go your own way.
The concept car by Mark Wilson features front wheels that collapse while in quad mode and expand when the units are solo, with an automated chassis lock securing the vehicles and releasing them with the push of a button.
Top image: The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion research car. Credit: Mercedes-Benz.
[Source: Web Urbanist. Edited. Top image and some links added.]