Volvo says driverless cars could eventually replace airplane travel. Photos courtesy of Volvo Cars.

Oct. 9, 2018

Volvo Cars has a vision of transportation right out of a sci-fi movie.

The Swedish vehicle manufacturer foresees a world in which you travel long distances without the need for airports. Along with no airport security, hours of queuing and cramped airliners, instead one enjoys the comfort of a first-class private cabin, being picked up and returned home when the trip is over.

It is this vision of driverless travel that Volvo Cars revealed last month with the new Volvo 360c concept.  

It’s what the Volvo Cars folks are calling “a holistic view of a future of travel that is autonomous, electric, connected and safe.”

Volvo 360cIt could also be a moneymaker in this new growth market too since, for example the concept could be competing with a multi-billion dollar domestic air travel industry.

In the United States alone more than 740 million travelers took domestic flights last year and America’s domestic air travel industry is worth billions of dollars in revenue. Several busy domestic air routes, such as New York to Washington DC, Houston to Dallas and Los Angeles to San Diego, are more time-consuming by air than by car when including things such as travel to the airport, security checks and waiting times.

“The 360c starts the conversation on what the next phase of travel can look like when people no longer need to focus on the task of driving,” said Jim Nichols, senior manager of Product, Technology & Brand Communications at Volvo Cars.  

The 360c is part of the brand’s vision for travel, built around a Level 5, fully autonomous and electric car – no steering wheel, pedals, internal combustion engine or human driver. The approach incorporates a variety of elements that extend beyond Volvo’s past concepts. Due to this, the new concept offers potential solutions and sparks important conversation about how travel can evolve. 

Volvo 360cImagine sleeping through your highway commute.

The key elements Volvo Cars is looking at include:

• An adaptive interior with living room, sleeping, entertainment and office modes

• Innovations like a special safety blanket to protect passengers while the interior is in sleeping model

• A need for global standards on how tomorrow’s vehicles will communicate with people and vise versa

• Opportunities to reimagine work-life balance and productivity, city infrastructure and even the business model of short-haul air travel.

“The 360c concept opens up a new way to think about safety as it relates to autonomous cars and pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers,” Nichiols said. “Volvo Cars believes a standardized approach to communicating AD vehicle movements via sound, light and haptic feedback can help enhance the safety benefits AD cars are likely to provide.”

For Volvo, it seems the new 360c is a beginning for the auto industry and for multiple facets of society. The 360c is a first deliberate step towards a broad discussion about the potential for autonomous driving technology to fundamentally change society in many ways.

“The business will change in the coming years and Volvo should lead that change of our industry,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars. “Autonomous drive will allow us to take the big next step in safety but also open up exciting new business models and allow consumers to spend time in the car doing what they want to do.”

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