What Will Self Driving Cars Look Like?

By Bridget Brown; Posted Feb 14, 2018

This blog is the second installment of a three-part series on what the future of Autonomous Vehicles is likely to look like in Canada and around the world.

 

The idea of what driving will be like in the future has always captured the imagination. From The Jetsons, whizzing around in floating bubble cars, to Marty McFly and Doc Brown, fueling their time travelling Delorean with trash in Back to the Future 2.

 

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

 

Car companies are starting to put together an idea of what the autonomous vehicle could look like, and it seems as exciting as any TV show.

 

Side mirrors will become superfluous, as driverless vehicles use an expensive combination of sensors to “see” the world around them. Most iterations of these sensors so far look like a bubble or police light on top of the vehicle.

 

Although some governments are insisting all vehicles have a steering wheel for the time being, that too could be deleted from an autonomous vehicle, or made retractable to appease regulators in the meantime.

 

Chevrolet’s prototype AVs have chairs that swivel to face each other. Other designers predict fold-out workspaces. “Rolling living rooms” have been displayed at auto and technology forums. The utility of a comfortable space to relax or sleep will of course be affected by how willing regulators are to relax seatbelt laws.

 

Some experts predict until autonomous vehicles prove to have dramatically fewer crashes, lawmakers (pressured by insurance companies) will be hesitant to change seat belt and child restraint laws, even though most recent studies show self-driving cars would reduce road fatalities by as much as 90%.

 

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

 

The New York Times recently dedicated an article to what the interior of self-driving cars might look like. It notes that a dashboard wouldn’t be strictly necessary, if there is no driver in a fixed position requiring its information.

 

Courtesy: Victoria Transport Policy Institute
Courtesy: Victoria Transport Policy Institute

 

Windows would become less related to safety, and could be replaced with display screens, showing weather, pointing out nearby amenities, or showing TV, movies or social media and text displays.

 

At ArtCentre College of Design in California, which is one of the world’s best automotive design schools, students displayed their concepts of what would be possible in a self-driving car. Some of the participants gamified the autonomous vehicle experience, for example, using virtual reality to give car occupants the sensation of driving a race car, or allowing occupants to incorporate the passing scenery into other types of VR games,

 

“Video games would be integrated into the passing environment. Players could fire “weapons” at buildings, and then, via a projection on the glass, see the structure go up in digital flames.” -The New York Times, “Envisioning the Car of the Future”

 

There is no doubt many of these imagined options will be possible in the near future. What remains to be seen is how regulations affect what is allowed, and what features carmakers deem are important enough, or alluring enough to include.


 

 

 

About the author: 

 

Bridget Brown

 

Bridget Brown is a Calgary-based writer. She runs Create That Communications, a marketing agency specializing in compelling storytelling. Bridget is an award-winning former broadcaster; she spent 15 years reporting and producing for stations across Canada.

 

 

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