What will cars look like in a few decades? That’s anyone’s guess—if old science-fiction movies have proven anything, it’s that visions of automobile design thirty or fifty years down the road (pun intended) tend to be far, far different than the eventual reality. (Blade Runner, for example, posited that the skies above Los Angeles would swarm with flying cars by 2019.)
By taking current ideas about self-driving cars, and combining them with the very human need to get as much done as possible in any given day, design consultants IDEO have come up with the idea that future vehicles will resemble glass-lined offices on wheels. (Tip of the hat to Gizmodo for the link.)
“As confidence grows in autonomous ways of delivering goods and autonomous driving becomes more mainstream,” read a note accompanying the designs on IDEO’s website, “a third stage of automobility will come into existence. It will involve inverse commutes, where working spaces come closer to where people live instead of commuters heading to pre-determined workplaces.” In other words, instead of your Honda ferrying you to the cubicle farm, prepare for your mobile office to roll to a scenic spot in the morning:
IDEO also boasts designs for more conventional-looking self-driving cars and trucks. In every instance, the emphasis is on productivity and convenience, rather than, say, speed or handling. The idea of sacrificing the latter for the former could make some diehard car aficionados seriously ill, but as cities become progressively more crowded, and people more interested in squeezing as much productivity as possible out of their day, car designs that follow this philosophy may begin to make an appearance.
There is a downside to the ability to step into your car and get to work without worrying about collisions. Self-driving vehicles may lower accident rates and free drivers from actually having to mind the road, but privacy advocates remain concerned about the amount of data such systems would collect. “The car must not become a data monster,” Martin Winterkorn told a keynote audience earlier this year, according to Re/code. “I clearly say yes to Big Data, yes to greater security and convenience, but no to paternalism and Big Brother.”
And of course, knowing how these things go, the cars of the future will probably look totally different from whatever we imagine today.
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