Self-driving cars are right around the corner. There are numerous autonomous concepts and prototypes on the roads, fielded by Google, Volvo, Mercedes and others, and their success suggests that we might not be far from having them available to the public. This is going to require a significant shift in interior design, and Volvo has done some exploration into this idea with the Concept 26.

Unveiled at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, Concept 26 is a design study that focuses on the interior, rather than the exterior. Taking the idea of an autonomous luxury car, Volvo considers ways that the interior can be reconfigured and re-thought to accommodate drivers who aren’t necessarily driving all the time. It’s got three driving modes: Drive, Create, and Relax. Concept 26 is an interior designed for a car that is autonomous during the daily commute, but actively driven the rest of the time.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volvo Concept 26.

Volvo Concept 26 in detail

Volvo Cars Unveils Concept 26 In Los Angeles High Resolution Interior
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To facilitate this, Concept 26 features comfortable, body-hugging seats, a retractable 25-inch flatscreen monitor in the dash connected to a raised tablet-style interface in the center console and an armrest that doubles as a writing table. In Drive mode, the monitor is stowed to reduce distraction. The instrument panel is driver-centric and laid out cockpit-style. When Concept 26 is switched to Create mode, the screen and table are deployed to allow the driver to work on projects or just stream online content.

Relaxation is offered in the form of a reclined seat and more passive entertainment. The front seats feature a reclining function with leg rests, and slide back for additional legroom. The concept is being further developed with the input of drivers around the world. Volvo believes that by enabling a car to become a mobile office or living room during long commutes, it can allow drivers to gain back some of the many hours that are lost annually on the daily grind.

Why it matters

Volvo Cars Unveils Concept 26 In Los Angeles High Resolution Interior
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Unlike similar concepts that have appeared in the past, Concept 26 is designed using Volvo’s new scalable vehicle architecture, so it could be applied to a number of future Volvo products. When the autonomous-car revolution comes, Volvo will be ready.

Press Release

Volvo Cars’ ongoing research into autonomous driving has confirmed what we all know - that the daily commute is taking the joy out of driving. It is during the commute and on long-haul motorway trips that people are most willing to delegate the act of driving to their car.

Volvo Cars Unveils Concept 26 In Los Angeles High Resolution Interior
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With this in mind Volvo has developed Concept 26, named to reflect the average daily commute to work of 26 minutes – time that could be spent doing something more meaningful than sitting in stop-go traffic. Volvo has set out to bring choice and freedom back to the driver; to enjoy the driving experience when they want to, or to delegate driving to the car when they want to do something else.

Drive, Create, Relax

“It’s all about people. 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. Autonomous drive will make all of this possible. This is what Concept 26 has captured by reimagining the entire car experience,” said Robin Page, Vice President of Interior Design at Volvo Cars.

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 or Relax. With these three modes the concept creates a new autonomous drive innovation platform that can adapt to new needs and technologies over time.

Volvo Cars Unveils Concept 26 In Los Angeles High Resolution Interior
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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. Concept 26 embraces the need for radical change of the basic design of car interiors and provides a space that can be used as the driver/passenger wishes.

Concept 26 opens up a new paradigm of possibilities in the car - from entertainment to service provision and beyond, using the technology that is now a natural part of our everyday lives. It also signals the huge potential for new business opportunities and high-tech collaborations that autonomous drive will bring.

“We have gone to great lengths to understand the challenges and opportunities that autonomous cars will bring to people in coming years, and our flexible approach to engineering and design, enabled by our new Scalable Product Architecture, means that we can readily bring this from concept to reality,” said Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development at Volvo Car Group.

Confidence

Volvo Cars’ ongoing Drive Me research project, which will see an extended fleet of fully autonomous cars driving real customers on the roads of Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2017 is further proof that Volvo is a leader in autonomous drive technology, building firmly on its foundation of safety.

Volvo Cars Unveils Concept 26 In Los Angeles High Resolution Interior
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“Volvo Cars is among the first to address the subject of self-driving cars and liability. We firmly believes that car makers should take full responsibility for the actions of the car when it is driving in full autonomous mode. If a manufacturer does not accept liability it clearly implies that they are not confident about their autonomous drive technology,” said Dr Peter Mertens.

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