While most automated car manufacturers are working on the technology behind automation, it would seem Volvo is more focused on creating the luxury passenger experience, hoping to be the leader in automated car cabin design.
The company’s senior vice president of design, Thomas Ingenlath spoke to Autocar about its efforts in automated car technologies and he explained the company wants to create the ultimate cabin experience to meet demands of Asian drivers.
“Not being a company that has a passion for power and driver focus means that we have spent more time exploring the passenger lounge area,” he said. “In the S90 Excellence [a three-seater model for China], we used a special centre console and took a seat out to explore what could you actually do with this space.”
The company has invested a lot in creating the perfect passenger experience, Ingenlath added. It has conducted wide-ranging studies to see how passengers use their time in the back seat to ensure all the most-used features are integrated into its vehicles.
“Now we see all these exercises have become elements in a big puddle and we were naturally researching in this area,” Ingenlath continued. “It shows that our way of looking into a car has naturally turned into how you use a car in the future.”
Robin Page, vice president of interior design at Volvo has also been involved in creating the ultimate passenger experience. He said the process of developing a passenger experience that suits the demands of Asian passengers and Western World drivers was a hefty task.
“We have to add more feature content, entertainment and things that can entertain and put [passengers] into different situations when they’re not driving the cars,” he said.
Some of the aspects the company is working on is allowing the car to move the seat into the perfect position for whoever may be using it.
“The seats will be doing a lot more; if you want to move into a different position, how does the seat move you?” Page said.
10/11/2016: Vehicles will be unmarked to prevent ‘bullying’
Volvo’s automated cars will not feature the company’s automated car branding in an effort to stop the passengers and drivers being ‘bullied’.
Volvo’s contribution to the self-driving cars market are due to be tested next year, but the company doesn’t want to draw attention to the fact humans aren’t controlling their actions, unlike other companies tat tend to brand their automated vehicles during testing.
“I’m pretty sure that people will challenge them if they are marked by doing really harsh braking in front of a self-driving car or putting themselves in the way,” Erik Coelingh, the company’s senior technical lead told The Observer.
Volvo will test its cars on the streets of London, using 100 of its existing model of car and it will also use public volunteers rather than staff or trained testers. It said it will use 4×4 cars and the volunteers will sit in the driving seat as if they are driving – another safeguard against people raising suspicions about them being self-driving. The scheme is the company’s Drive Me Project and although the volunteers will stay in control while on some roads, IntelliSafe’s Autopilot technology will take over when it’s deemed safe to do so.
Uber has said it’s opted to work with Volvo on its self-driving cars, which will presumably become part of its taxi business, while Ford is also working on its own self-driving car, due to hit the roads in 2012.
Autonomous cars are set to become a common sight on our roads by 2025 and the government is onboard to see this vision become a reality because it thinks they encourage the UK to become a world leader in the technology if it offers the support the industry needs.