Home Are autonomous cars already influencing interior design?

Are autonomous cars already influencing interior design?

Barring any regulatory issues, autonomous cars should be on the roads in a few years. Auto manufacturers have, for the most part, introduced slight iterations of a normal car interior, but General Motors executive director of Cadillac design, Andrew Smith, says bigger changes are on the way.

While exterior designs for self-driving cars so far have leaned towards the utilitarian (*ahem* see the Google car at the top of this page), it doesn’t mean this plain wrapper can’t have a well-appointed and useful interior.

Speaking at the WardsAuto Interiors Conference, Smith said that his design staff are already thinking about what changes an autonomous car will bring to the interior of a car.

See Also: Google self-driving car shakes fist at Palo Alto drivers

“At a basic level as a designer, you could ask should everyone face forward in an autonomous car?,” asked Smith. “Do you still need a steering wheel? What do occupants do with all that time since they won’t be driving?”

Autonomous vehicles lead to autonomous rider-audiences

Smith’s team is also looking at how to present information to the user. In Mercedes F 015 Luxury in Motion concept car, large screens built into the walls showed content, but we suspect most users would choose their iPad or laptop over a screen at a 90 degree angle to the front of the car.

“As designers we are being called on to use our imagination to redefine the customer experience,” said Smith. “The stakes are really high at the moment. We’re on the verge of so much technical innovation.”

Building an interior suitable for an autonomous car might take a complete rethink of the car design, both in an out. Does a car require four wheels? Should the engine be positioned at the front of the car?

Ford is thinking even further outside of the car, recently filing a patent application for a mini-me drone that follows the car and alerts them about any upcoming traffic jams or accidents.

The design of the car will definitely change in the next few years, but worries over human error (while humans are still allowed to drive cars) and other human drivers might delay massive innovations on the car design.

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