For a car that was built to be a room/cabin on wheels, safety takes on a completely different avatar. You can’t opt for the traditional seat-belt in a car that was literally designed to be practically a bedroom on wheels. That’s the dilemma for Volvo’s 360c, a car that was quite literally built to be “architecture that transports you”. Focusing on empathizing with the traveler, the car is built with no steering wheel, pedals, or even a traditional dashboard. Instead, the car is treated as a cabin either for work (giving you more productivity), or rest (allowing you to grab a few winks during your long commute), and with that status of being a cabin on wheels come a few concerns… namely “how do you protect a sleeping passenger during a road mishap?”
Especially a concern for Volvo, given its reputation of being a brand that always puts safety and reliability first, the car company decided that the traditional safety methods like seat-belts and SRS airbags would simply not do. So in comes Volvo’s replacement… a Safety Blanket.
The ideation started with Volvo’s engineering team first looked at different reclinable positions (with the seatbelt), much like an airplane, but it came with its share of constraints, like what if the person wanted to sleep on their side, or roll over. Besides, airplane seatbelts are made to secure you during turbulence, while a car seatbelt is made for much more grave scenarios. The Safety Blanket works much like the seat-belt, in the sense it restrains you at the moment of impact, but as safety measure, is much more complicated and nuanced. A seat-belt works great because you’re always seated in a certain way. When you sleep, you’re either sleeping supine, or on your side, or even your stomach. The blanket covers your body and consists of restraints that would tighten around your shoulders and hip areas in the event of a collision or hard braking.
“The idea is to select a personalized blanket for your needs and you wear it for comfort and coziness and it will then provide protection during a crash.” says Lotta Jakobsson, senior technical expert at Volvo. “The challenge is making sure it interacts with you, being different in sizes, sleeping differently.” The Safety Restraint Blanket currently is just a work in progress, but given how soon self-driving cars will begin occupying our roads, it won’t be long before a more detailed, tested, and validated version of this will begin being implemented. “You need to figure out how you won’t be injured by things,” Jakobsson said. “It’s definitely keeping us busy.”
While Uber is focusing on bigger things like flying cars and vertical-takeoff airports, it’s nice to see Lyft targeting an area that’s much more practical, effective, and for the lack of a better term, ‘down to earth’.
Partnering with Chinese manufacturer, Xiaomi, Lyft announced that it plans on allowing its customers to rent e-scooters for commuting short distances. While Lyft surely isn’t the first company to provide scooter-renting, it’s now the largest company, already with over 23 million users.
Xiaomi’s scooters for Lyft provide a top speed of 15mph and an impressive range of 15 miles on a full charge. Lyft is incentivizing users to opt for its e-scooters for short distances with discounts, and prices as low as 15 cents per minute of use. The new direction for Lyft makes sense, not just from a business point of view, because people despise last-mile commutes, but also from an ecological point of view, because the e-scooters will provide easily accessible emission-free transport!
Designer: Lyft & Xiaomi.
Let’s think about it for a second. If the most important aspect of a car (the driver) is removed, how much should a car look and behave like a car? It wouldn’t necessarily need steering wheels, a gear, pedals, rear-view mirrors, or a traditional dashboard, so what’s the difference between a self-driving car (without any of the above) and a cabin on wheels?
The only true constant in the case of a self-driving car is the traveler, believes Volvo. Focusing on the traveler’s experience, the voice in the video asks “What if autonomous travel can eliminate the stress that lurks between A and B?”. Volvo’s 360c wants to be perceived as not a car, but as an extension of your home. A moving home, or perhaps a modern-day caravan. The car is designed to be architecture on wheels, serving as a place of relaxation, entertainment, preparation, or even business… on the go. With an interior that focuses on being empathetic towards the traveler’s journey, the 360c can be a bedroom that allows you to de-stress on long travels, or have a relaxed commute to the workplace. It can also make your work commute a whole lot more productive by offering the connectivity and space of a mobile office, giving you as much as 2-3 extra hours in the day to be your most productive self.
The philosophical focus on the traveler results in a car that may fit into the traditional design outline of an automobile, but features a few key differences. The interior was given much more focus than the exterior, turning the boxy space into a room of sorts that can be used for work, play, and sleep. Generous use of glass lets you feel aware of your surroundings, while even providing the ability to tint it, turning the interiors into a more private area for work or to catch a few winks. The car completely does away with the steering wheel too, and while relinquishing that control may worry some, Volvo hopes that its brand image of car safety and reliability should help quell those doubts. The 360c is currently just being treated as a concept, but it provides a rather insightful window into Volvo’s direction in the coming future.
The Apple Watch is literally almost a phone. With a virtual sim card of its own, and a whole lot of other features that make it quite an independently capable device, the Apple Watch is capable of being much more than a smartwatch, and Satechi’s Grip Mount gives it another purpose, other than that of a smartwatch, and another home, other than your wrist.
Satechi’s Grip Mount for the Apple Watch allows you to attach the device (sans the wristbands) to your car, cycle, or motorbike, allowing it to work in conjunction with the vehicle, serving the purpose of a navigational device that also lets you answer and reject calls, or even control music. The fact that the Watch comes with Bluetooth makes it perfect for your car, allowing you to connect it to the car’s audio system for on-board calls, navigational guidance, or for controlling music playback. You can also use it on a bicycle, letting it run the Cyclemeter app to capture the amount of exercise you’re getting too! The Apple Watch, chock-a-block with cutting edge technology, is capable of being much more than a wrist-mounted smart-device. The Satechi Grip Mount does it a fair bit of justice.
While most Aston Martin automobiles are designed to give you the sensation of flying while being safely grounded on four wheels against the asphalt, the Volante Vision concept may actually give you the power of flight. Debuted at the Farnborough Air Show this year, the Volante Vision is Aston Martin’s first foray into airplanes (coincidentally, Volante means Flying in quite a few European languages).
Designed to seat three people, the Volante Vision was made to provide fast, efficient and congestion-free luxurious travel in urban areas. With cities growing bigger and roads getting more congested, the British Automotive Maker believes in taking to the skies, after all, Aston Martin has always been about speed, luxury, and being a cut above.
The Volante Vision concept, a VTOL (vertical take-off and landing), occupies the space of four cars and comes with three propellers, Aston Martin’s sleek-yet-curvilinear outer body, and a comfortable interior that takes aircraft seating and turns it up a notch. Built with a hybrid-electric powertrain and self-piloting capabilities, the Volante was designed in partnership with Cranfield University, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, and Rolls-Royce.
Well, that’s a pretty classy way to beat the traffic.
Designer: Aston Martin