Volvo has unveiled its new 360C Autonomous Concept as a picture of what would change for people once autonomous vehicles become the norm. The 360C is more about possibilities and the changes in our work-life balance than it is about a vehicle that can drive itself.

For example, Volvo asks, where would you live if your commute to work was nothing more than sitting in a vehicle that drove you as you did other things? Could a portion or even most of a person’s work day be inside a car? Would the car itself become a sort of traveling apartment?

“The 360c explores what becomes possible when we remove the human driver, using new freedoms in design and recapturing time – it’s a glimpse at how autonomous drive technology will change the world as we know it. The possibilities are mind-boggling,” said Mårten Levenstam, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Volvo Cars.

Fully autonomous and electric travel offers a range of advanced safety and environmental benefits, such as less pollution, less traffic congestion, and related health and lifestyle advantages for those living in cities. It also opens up possibilities for more residential freedom, reduced pressure on real estate pricing and more affordable home ownership.

“People becoming less reliant on proximity to cities is just one example of the impact of removing the burden of unproductive travel time,” said Mårten Levenstam. “The 360c driving office makes it viable for people to live at greater distances from crowded cities and use their time both in a more pleasant and more effective way.”

The concept presents four potential uses of autonomous driving vehicles – a sleeping environment, mobile office, living room and entertainment space – representing an attractive travel option that could rival air, bus and train providers, but with competitive advantages in comfort, convenience and privacy.

Volvo also imagines the autonomous car becoming a replacement for short-haul air travel, becoming a sort of mobile first class section with door-to-door convenience.

“We regard the 360c as a conversation starter, with more ideas and answers to come as we learn more,” Mårten Levenstam said. “Yet we believe fully autonomous drive has the potential to fundamentally change our society in many ways. It will have a profound impact on how people travel, how we design our cities and how we use infrastructure. But we are just one of many stakeholders, so we expect and invite a broad discussion as society learns how to make the most of this revolutionary technology.”

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An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at AaronOnAutos.com.

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