This is the Autonomous Travel Suite by Aprilli. It’s, in theory, a self-driving car, but Aprilli doesn’t refer to it as a car. Aprilli calls it a hotel on wheels, and while that sounds like marketing-team-hogwash, it actually isn’t. Aprilli are touching on the fact that self-driving cars won’t just make transportation easier. They’re going to shake the hotel industry.
AirBnb has done enough to really disrupt the massive hotel, resort, and corporate suite business, but self-driving cars like the Autonomous Travel Suite are here to pretty much drive the nail into the coffin. For the longest time, hotels have been valued based on two things. Their services, and their location. A well-located hotel, or a well-located room in a hotel often cost more because of the value attached to it. Maybe the hotel was near your workplace, seminar hall, concert auditorium, wedding venue, the beach, etc. With Aprilli’s Autonomous Travel Suite, it doesn’t need to be. I’ve often said that an autonomous car is less of a car and more of an interior space on wheels, and that’s what the Autonomous Travel Suite is set to do… Be your hotel on wheels.
This should worry the hotel industry simply because location isn’t an important factor anymore. Your hotel room is now a moving space that makes everything accessible. By combining travel and hospitality into one single unit now, you don’t need to stay at a hotel and then travel to work. Staying and commuting are now both one and the same thing… like a modern caravan. The Autonomous Travel Suite comes with a bed, a work area, a lounging area, and even bathroom amenities, all housed within a moving cabin that you can program via a tablet. The hotel also comes with an ever-changing view, thanks to its glass exterior (which can also turn opaque to give you complete privacy). Aprilli takes the concept a step forward by also introducing the Autonomous Hotel Chain, a charging dock for your travel suite pod that also gives you the amenities you’d expect at any hotel. The self-driving cars dock automatically in their designated spaces that open into your own personal bedrooms, giving you the comfort of a traditional hotel room while your car charges. Hotels are even built with facilities like pools, spas, and restaurants, completing the overall hotel experience and giving you something Aprilli calls Transpitality, a portmanteau of Transportation and Hospitality. Now that’s definitely the work of a Marketing-Team.
While the Autonomous Travel Suite is still a concept, it’s indicative of a shift that we’re bound to see in the next 5 years, where you could practically stay at a hotel that’s a 3-hour commute from the city, yet the exhaustion of travel never gets to you because your hotel room takes you wherever you want to go!
Designed for Spanish automotive manufacturer Seat, Miguel Mojica’s automotive concept named MEET is a compact, aerodynamic, slick car for 2030. Its purpose (aside from transportation, of course)? Being a space for meetings of both formal and informal natures. As cars move towards an autonomous future, the car interiors change too, adapting to a situation sans a driver, or passengers facing the road. The interiors become more independent, and start becoming the focus of the car’s design. It’s perhaps for this reason that the MEET has a relatively plain outer aesthetic with little to no design embellishments, while the interiors tell a completely different story.
The outer aesthetic comes with a streamlined design that’s mainly metallic gray paint and glass, along with blue light-based detailing (there’s even a greeting light on the front), while the interiors come with magnetic levitation seats that can independently turn (I imagine they provide incredible shock-absorption too). Designed keeping in mind that 5G and AR/VR will absolutely uplift the smartcar experience, the MEET goes all out with a central gadget that’s adaptable to all ecosystems, which will supposedly serve as a support table, a computer, and even a hologram projector tailored to provide virtual reality experiences. I’d like a generous slice of that future!
Designer: Miguel Mojica
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Clip a cover onto your phone, and it becomes an Alexa smart speaker, put a small tile on your keys and never lose them again, install X-Matik’s LaneCruise add-on system in your car and you now have a partially self-driving vehicle. The system itself consists of a “brainbox” which is located below the driver’s seat, a camera projecting forward from the rear-view mirror, a break and gas pedal along with a wheel controller to steer.
X-Matik’s vision is to democratize the self-driving car and give the power of this magnificent technology to people who can’t afford the likes of Tesla and other high-end vehicles. If at any stage the LaneCruise feels it is out of its depth, the system will prompt the user to regain control of the steering wheel ensuring maximum safety. Albeit the LaneCruise is missing sonar and radar, this is an exhilarating step in the right direction.
Like other things, cars have evolved with time, thanks to manufacturers who always keep an eye on cutting edge technologies for transport vehicles. A typical four-wheeled car’s main purpose is to transport, but we have moved farther from that.
As we move towards the future, car makers are also preparing more advanced cars to enable comfort for people and, well, for car geeks, it’s more than that, of course. We’re already talking about electric vehicles and self-driving vehicles here. We’ll give you a preview of some of them here:
Toyota FCV Plus self-driving car
Image via: Autoblog
Toyota proves that they’re a company that’s way more than the typical sedans. In 2015, the car maker has unveiled a futuristic and spaceship-looking car called FCV Plus. This concept car is from Toyota is more than just style; it runs on hydrogen fuel, which means, it’s eco-friendly too. FCV Plus is one of those potential cars for the future, but as the car maker continues to work on perfecting the vehicle, we can just wait for now.
Mercedes Benz’ F 015 Luxury in Motion self-driving car
Image via: Entrepreneur.com
Mercedez Benz is also not allowing itself to get left behind and is also working on its own self-driving car. As a matter of fact, on top of wowing the audience at the Consumer Electronics Show, the some lucky pedestrians in San Francisco were also lucky to spot the amusing capsule-looking vehicle on the streets as Benz began to test drive it beginning some two years ago. Aiming for class and luxury, Benz envisions a lounge looking four seater design for its interior.
GAC WitStar Concept autonomous vehicle in China
Image via: cleantechnica
China, which seems to have answers in every commodity, has this WitStar concept that looks somehow similar with the Benz self-driving concept. The difference is, this vehicle has a gull wing door and an option to drive of to autopilot. I bet this would be much cheaper than the Benz as well.
Tata ConnectNext electric car
Image via: Ibtimes
Even Indian car maker Tata is in the loop with futuristic cars. As early as 2014, it has already made a prototype of its expected modern vehicle. This five-seater electric car boasts design and functionality: it has floating seats and highly-technological features, such as the steering wheel active indicators, augmented navigation and infotainment.
Tesla’s Model 3 electric self-driving car
Image via: Business Insider
An autonomous vehicles list will not be complete without Tesla, of course. it’s not only an autonomous vehicle, it’s also eco-friendly as it would run on electricity and can travel at least 215 miles on a single charge. It’s rumored to begin production this year, so start pre-ordering for this modern vehicle because it already has more than 400,000 pre-orders to date!
LeEco’s LeSEE self-driving car in China
Image via: lesee
Meanwhile, China’s LeEco has also made its own self-driving car concept in an attempt to compete with Tesla. But what sets it differently from Tesla, is its goal to change the taxi industry in China, compared to Tesla, which is generally marketing for the general public.
Electric RoboBuses in Finland
Image via: inhabitat
Self-driving technology is not only focused in sedans. Just like this cute-looking self-driving bus which is set to roam around the streets of Finland this year!
Harry, the driverless pod in Greenwich, England
Image via: The Guardian
U.K. does not want to get left behind and created their own driverless pod, 100 of which is set to roam in the city, is set to launch in July.
Lutz Pathfinder self-driving car in the UK
Image via: Redbull
Meanwhile, this vehicle doesn’t look like an actual car, but it is. The makers of Lutz Pathfinder is already testing the vehicle out in the streets to understand how it will react to the city environment such as pedestrians. Indeed, the company seems to be preparing for a safer and smarter community. Cheers!
General Motor’s Electronic Networked-Vehicle
Image via: NY Daily News
Similar to Lutz Pathfinder is this cutesy concept self-driving vehicle from General Motors. Apart from typical technologies like GPS, it also has the capability to “communicate” to other similar vehicles as means to maneuver the traffic.
Last weekend both Financial Times and Wall Street Journal reported independently that Apple might be working on a very special project regarding cars.The main idea? It wasn’t about accessories, but about Apple producing their own.
Some press outlets around the world are claiming Apple is getting ready to create their first “Apple Car”, with the Cupertino guys recruiting experts and directos of many automotive companies to get the ball going for this ambitious project. And even though the press claims this, Apple has neither confirmed nor denied anything. What is going on?
According to The «Wall Street Journal», one of the most reputable business outlets in the world, the new car will be a reality, and its name is Titan – Apple Titan. It will be an electric car, in direct competition with Tesla who are the biggest creators in the high-end sector. Apple has for a while been discussing the importance of keeping the environment clean and taking care of the planet, so a project like this fights right in with this philosophy.
This information is all leaks and rumors, so nothing is official. Yet, we can’t help but get excited. The car won’t just be a sports car, but a monovolume – but it’s still in development. and that might change. The car is being touted as autonomous and self-driving, like everything Apple, once we think about it.
Steve Jobs himself had dreamed of an Apple Car, declaring to the New York Times once that, “had [he] had more energy, [he] would have attempted it [himself]“. Now Mickey Drexler declared last year that this was definitely spot on, and probably the next step for the Cupertino company.
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The Brits seem to be developing an inexplicable attraction for unusual vehicles. First, UK’s government plans to get Tesla Model S as their official car, and now they’re announcing the debut of self-driving cars on public roads by the beginning of next year.
Currently, driverless cars are allowed in the UK only on private roads, but things are about to change. Assuming that these cars enter mass production by the beginning of 2015, and that the UK knows something that the rest of the world doesn’t, such cars should be seen on public roads at that point in time.
There’s going to be some competition in this field, as Google is no longer the only search engine interested in making a self-driving car. Baidu, China’s most important search engine, expressed its interest in developing a highly autonomous car (mind you, not a driverless one!) that keeps humans in the equation, and the result shouldn’t take long to appear.
Last year, the Department for Transport announced that trials of self-driving cars should start on public roads by the end of 2013. In December, the Treasury got involved in this matter, as well, and suggested creating a plan so that a town or city would be awarded £10m to test these cars.
Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne are firm supporters of the legislation that will allow self-driving cars on public roads. Their wish is to make sure that “the UK is the right place to develop and test driverless cars.”
All this was hinted at when the Technology Strategy Board, an entity backed by the UK government, sought to establish test sites for robotics and autonomous systems (RAS). Even though the self-driving cars are part of these systems, the Board did not specifically mention them, thus leaving a bit of room for interpretations.
I’m happy to see the UK, Europe’s main tech hub, embracing such innovations. The support offered by politicians makes all this even more worth of applause. While not yet of manufacturer of driverless cars itself, the UK is open to this change that will affect all of us dramatically, someday. Hopefully, self-driving cars will put an end to road police, car crashes, driving schools and all that!
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