Self-driving cars of the future won’t need to be configured on the inside the way they are now, since things like steering columns won’t be required. Electric drive trains will also help maximize available interior space, so it makes sense that cars will look dramatically different inside and out when the two things combine, as they seem inevitably on track to do.
The new Rinspeed Oasis concept car is an urban self-driving vehicle, equipped with two seats that can swivel independently to accommodate different seating accommodations. The interior is also designed as “living space,” the comp pay notes, with “the ambience of a modern-day family room.” That includes amenities like an armchair, a TV, and a windshield that can offer immersion in fully virtualized surroundings (you don’t necessarily need to see outside if you’re not driving, after all), or augmented reality displays with overlays on the passing view.
The car is designed as a shared resource, meaning it can be reconfigured easily for different purposes, including relaxing as mentioned above, but also as a delivery vehicle thanks to an included, climate-controlled and passcode protected delivery drawer.
How realistic is the concept? Well, it’s real enough to be shown off at the upcoming CES in January 2017, so that’s something. Rinspeed has also anticipated other key innovations in car technology, including steering-wheel integrated controls, which it introduced in 1985, and it’s been workmen with cars and carmakers since 1977.
Given the pace of development of autonomous driving tech, it might not be long before interior design of vehicles for specific uses and car types is big business. In a world where driving isn’t the primary activity that happens inside a car’s cockpit, the options for what they look like on the inside are going to broaden considerably.