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Vehicles as mobile living rooms

Jan. 4, 2016
Turning your car into a mobile living room

Why leave your living room at home when you can take it with you wherever you go? At least, that seems to be reasoning behind the new Volvo Cars Concept 26 vehicle and the high-bandwidth streaming capabilities it’ll be equipped with.

“Our research clearly shows that some people will want to use their commuting time creatively when they have full autonomous drive available, while others will want to just sit back and relax, watch online media or listen to music,” noted Robin Page, VP of interior design at Volvo Cars. “Autonomous drive will make all of this possible. This is what Concept 26 has captured by reimagining the entire car experience,”

Unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show late last year, the Concept 26 is based around an all-new patented seat design that “actively cradles” the driver during the transformation phase into one of the three modes: “Drive,” “Create,” and “Relax.”

  • Drive: This mode minimizes distractions while driving manually.
  • Create: In this mode, a variety of seat, table and screen configurations are enabled to offer a range of activities, such as reading, working on a business project, or “consuming” media and other online content while the car takes care of the driving – always providing the driver with overall control.
  • Relax: This mode transforms the seat into a comfortable reclining position, with the vehicle “curating” and “suggesting” content to the driver via the passenger dashboard mounted screen – all while the vehicle takes care of the driving.

Paige said that when the driver wishes to delegate driving to the car the steering wheel retracts, the seat reclines and a large display emerges from the dashboard allowing the driver to enjoy the time spent in the car as they like – including, of course, streaming all sorts of online programming.

The streaming part of this autonomous vehicle (AV) experience represents the tricky stuff, which is why Volvo Cars is partnering with mobile phone network provider Ericsson to provide high bandwidth streaming capabilities.

“Imagine a highway full of autonomous cars with their occupants sitting back watching their favorite TV shows in high definition,” noted Anders Tylman, GM of Volvo’s monitoring & concept center. “This new way of commuting will demand new technology, and a much broader bandwidth to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.”

Volvo and Ericsson both believe that the shift to self-driving vehicles will engender increased need for consistent and high-bandwidth coverage outside densely populated areas such as city centers and suburbs.

Using Ericsson’s network and cloud expertise, Volvo Cars’ aim is to deliver a high quality, interruption-free experience in vehicles while on the move.

Claes Herlitz, head of automotive services at Ericsson, noted in a statement that by predicting vehicle route and looking ahead at network conditions, specific “content” can be “tailored” to the duration of each trip while it is all “intelligently buffered” in order to deliver a high quality and uninterrupted viewing experience.

“Our research shows that almost 70% of all mobile data traffic will be from video in the coming years,” he explained. “This requires an innovative connectivity, cloud and analytics solution that is not only capable of serving multiple moving vehicles across a highway, but also has the capacity to provide the high quality, uninterrupted video service today’s consumer is accustomed to.”

“If you want to watch the latest episode of your favorite TV series, the car will know how long the journey needs to take and can optimize the route and driving control accordingly,” Tylman added.

“With autonomous drive it is no longer just a question of just getting from A to B quickly – it’s about the experience you wish to have in the car and how you wish to spend the time you are saving,” he said. “With our future autonomous drive technology we will provide people with the freedom to choose the way they would like to commute and the content they would like to experience.”

Like I said, it’ll be like taking your living room wherever you go. Whether that is ultimately a good thing or not, though, I leave up to the drivers who decide to pilot vehicles equipped in such fashion.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr 1 | Senior Editor

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