Jag gazes into its crystal ball and sees intelligent, autonomous cars

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s no shortage of predictions when it comes time to guess what’ll happen when autonomous driving technology really takes off. One of the more popular projections is a dramatic change to the current car ownership model, with shared, on-demand vehicles taking a bite out of the high costs of car ownership that we know today. In a lot of ways, it makes sense, and now, Jaguar is jumping on the bandwagon with the new Future-Type Concept. Framed as an all-inclusive solution to the passenger transportation needs of the year 2040, the Future-Type mates advanced AI, fully autonomous driving capabilities, social sharing, on-demand ride summoning, and electric power, all with the traditional Jaguar elegance, refinement, and excitement. Or so it would seem.

“Future-Type offers an insight into the potential for driving and car ownership in the future. It’s part of our vision for how a luxury car brand could continue to be desirable, in a more digital and autonomous age,” according to Ian Callum, Director of Design at Jaguar. That’s all well and good, but what exactly are the details of that vision? Read on for a little more insight.

Continue reading to learn more about the Jaguar Future-Type Concept.

Exterior

2017 Jaguar Future-Type Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Aesthetically speaking, it’s hard to pin down that this thing is a actually a Jaguar. Gone is the traditionally gorgeous lines seen on modern vehicles like the F-Type or classics like the E-Type, and in their stead, we find what can only be described as a futuristic transportation pod plucked from some sci-fi novel.

Granted, it’s still a striking thing to behold, with sharp angles, a wide stance, low profile, and pumped-up wheel arches. The profile gets a nice rake to it that definitely connotes a sense of speed and performance, terminating in an upturned tail. The wheels are enormous, and get wrapped in a thin veneer of tire, filling the arches to the limit.

Gone is the traditionally gorgeous lines seen on modern vehicles like the F-Type or classics like the E-Type, and in their stead, we find what can only be described as a futuristic transportation pod plucked from some sci-fi novel.

Personally, though, I would prefer something a little closer to Jag’s older designs. If this is supposed to make me feel lust and desire, it’s not quite doing it. Rather, this looks more like an appliance – a sharp, tech-laden, futuristic appliance, sure, but an appliance nonetheless.

Regardless, the dimensions are compact enough to make sense in an urban setting, easily filing in and out of traffic and slotting into whatever parking spot it needs to charge the batteries back up to full.

Interior

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Questionable exterior styling aside, Jaguar’s Future-Type Concept is really more about explaining what the automaker thinks about the future of car ownership and the technology involved.

First and foremost, the car gets fully autonomous capability, which means it can drive on any public road without any input from a human pilot. Thanks to this high degree of self-sufficiency, the car can be summoned for on-demand transportation and shared mobility options.

At the center of the study is Jaguar’s new steering wheel concept. Dubbed “Sayer” after the designer of the original E-Type, this rectangular device is used for much more than simply directing the car. Jag calls it the “world’s first intelligent and connected steering wheel,” and apparently, it will “live in your home” and become a “trusted companion.”

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Jaguar says this squared-off steering wheel will act like your personal digitized assistant.

Standout features for the Sayer steering wheel include an advanced, voice-directed AI that can do stuff like summon a ride, play some music, book a dinner reservation, and even catalog what’s in your fridge in case you didn’t make a list before heading to the grocery story.

Here’s how it all works. If, for example, you need to be somewhere specific at a certain time, just tell Sayer, and the AI will figure out the details, such as when you need to wake up and when the car should arrive at your front door to pick you up. The AI will “even advise which parts of the journey you might enjoy driving yourself,” which should come as a relief to anyone fearing the demise of driving for fun.

Of course, Jag is quick to mention the copious social connections, work connections, and whatever else might be lumped together in a world of vast interconnectedness. That means that while you ride, you’ll be able to phone a friend, check your social network of choice, work on a business proposal, or watch a movie, all while Sayer takes care of the driving.

2017 Jaguar Future-Type Concept High Resolution Interior
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2017 Jaguar Future-Type Concept High Resolution Interior
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The AI will figure out the details, and “even advise which parts of the journey you might enjoy driving yourself,” which should come as a relief to anyone fearing the demise of driving for fun.

Sayer also gives you access to the Jaguar membership club, enabling you to optionally share your car. You can even just own the steering wheel if you want, thus opening up Jag access to a wide variety of individuals who can only afford an intelligent wheel.

Furthermore, the car you summon can come in a variety of different interior configurations appropriate for the task at hand. For example, Jag envisions summoning a “2+1 social seating” configuration for the morning commute to school, allowing you to converse with your kids while the autonomous systems handle navigation to the curb drop off point.

Drivetrain

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The high-end tech extends beyond convenience features and into the driving experience as well. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology will allow the Jag to travel very close to other vehicles on the road, thus reducing congestion and commute times in the process. What’s more, the autonomous capability will enable you to let the computer handle things during the boring or stressful aspects of driving, while still having fun when desired. Bumper to bumper traffic? Have at it, Sayer. Deserted, winding back road? I’ll take it from here.

Bumper to bumper traffic? Have at it, Sayer. Deserted, winding back road? I’ll take it from here.

Additionally, Jag asserts the onboard driver assists will make the car more enjoyable and safer to drive, setting things up in the “background” to keep it shiny side up without interfering with the good stuff. I’m imagining adaptable suspension, ultra-slick traction and stability control, and steering assist if you get it wrong.

In terms of powertrain specifics, Jag doesn’t give us a whole lot to go on, instead stating the Future-Type runs on electric power exclusively. Given recent developments, though, odds are Jaguar will have the goods in terms of all-electric performance by the year 2040… just don’t expect that straight six howl we’ve all loved in the past.

Conclusion

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I get what Jag is going for here. Basically, the hope is the Future-Type will give the same Jag experience we know today (that is, lots of fun to drive, plenty of comfort and luxury inside, and the prestige of a Cat Badge on the nose), but without the cost of outright ownership.

That’s a tricky thing for a premium brand like Jaguar, but it’s the reality many brands will eventually need to face. After all, Jag says its customers buy a Jaguar to make them feel special, and this concept will “investigating how [it] can keep this emotional connection in a future world where people may choose not to own a car, or when a Jaguar is an autonomous, on-demand vehicle.” Ian Callum adds, “if there’s a choice of on-demand cars driving around city streets, we need to ensure customers desire our 24/7 service over our competitors.”

That’s a tricky thing for a premium brand like Jaguar, but it’s the reality many brands will eventually need to face. But most importantly, how will these self-driving appliances feel when you decide to take the wheel for yourself?

It’s a difficult balance to find, that’s for sure. Will that special feeling fade when you realize your prized British luxury car is out on the town with someone else enjoying it? How will exclusivity, once a critical component of the segment, play out when just about anyone can summon a Jag right to their front door? And most importantly, how will these self-driving appliances feel when you decide to take the wheel for yourself?

It’s all still up in the air, but here’s my suggestion – first things first, get the design right, then we’ll talk about AI-infused steering wheels.

  • Leave it
    • * Exterior design feels like it came from Google, not Jaguar
    • * Will it still be special if everyone has one?
    • * Is a steering wheel really the right device for the whole digital assistant thing?

References

Jaguar F-Type SVR

2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the Jaguar F-Type SVR.

Press release

The Jaguar FUTURE-TYPE is a premium compact on-demand vehicle concept, designed to meet the mobility needs of future generations.

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The Jaguar FUTURE-TYPE is a fully autonomous concept that imagines mobility in a world where Jaguar customers can summon a fully-charged FUTURE-TYPE on-demand. Offering a glimpse into the future, It is a car for a world of autonomous, connected, electric and shared mobility (ACES).

At the heart of the concept is the world’s first intelligent and connected steering wheel. This steering wheel lives in your home and becomes your trusted companion. Sayer – named after the designer of the E-type - is the first voice-activated Artificial Intelligence (AI) steering wheel that will be able to carry out hundreds of tasks. It can summon your car, play music, book you a table and even knows what’s in your fridge. Sayer signals your membership of our on-demand service club. A club which offers either sole ownership or the option of sharing the car with others in your community, meaning that you need only fully own the steering wheel, not the car itself.

Need to be at a meeting two hours away from home by 8am tomorrow? Simply ask Sayer from the comfort of your living room and it will work out when you get up, when a car needs to autonomously arrive at your door and even advise which parts of the journey you might enjoy driving yourself.

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Sayer is the heart of an advanced HMI system that will keep you connected to your world throughout your journey – or not, if you want to be alone and concentrate on the thrill of driving. Occupants can summon information from different orbits of their world and bring them to life through the system. Pull up your home, family, friends or work orbits to check what’s happening and stay connected with all parts of your life. Select different orbits one by one, all at the same time or nothing at all, allowing you to dial up the information you do want to see and dial down what you don’t.

“FUTURE-TYPE offers an insight into the potential for driving and car ownership in the future. It’s part of our vision for how a luxury car brand could continue to be desirable, in a more digital and autonomous age,” said Ian Callum, Director of Design, Jaguar.

“Our FUTURE-TYPE Concept is an advanced research project looking at how we can ensure an on-demand Jaguar will appeal to customers in 2040 and beyond.Whether it’s commuting to work, autonomously collecting children from school or enjoying driving yourself on the weekend in the countryside, if there’s a choice of on-demand cars driving around city streets, we need to ensure customers desire our 24/7 service over our competitors.”

In the connected world of tomorrow, a fleet of fully-charged FUTURE-TYPEs could be available for customers on-demand. If you are taking your child to school, and only need two seats, you can summon a FUTURE-TYPE with 2+1 social seating, so you can chat face-to-face as the car autonomously drives you to your destination using the most time and energy efficient route.

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The FUTURE-TYPE will communicate with other cars and use co-operative driving technologies. This collaboration will enable shorter distances between vehicles and make lane changing and exiting from junctions safer and more efficient. This will also increase road capacity and prevent accidents, while the narrow width of FUTURE-TYPE will mean it takes up less space on the road and in car parks.

The driver could ask the FUTURE-TYPE to drive autonomously during the stressful and tedious parts of the journey, such as in heavy traffic or roadworks, or if they prefer to do some work or choose to watch a film. But for the occasions when a driver wants to enjoy the thrill of the open road, the concept retains a steering wheel.

This dual approach will allow drivers to choose either autonomous or assisted driving, with the assisted driver benefiting from the same advanced technologies that allow the FUTURE-TYPE to drive itself. These technologies will work in the background to make driving in the future safer and more enjoyable than ever, with the car always alert and aware of situations developing over the horizon.

“Today, Jaguar offers customers a dynamic, emotional experience. Whether it’s the exhilarating way they drive, the way they sound, the iconic design or the connection drivers feel with the road, customers tell us that their Jaguar makes them feel special. With the FUTURE-TYPE we’ve been investigating how we can keep this emotional connection in a future world where people may choose not to own a car, or when a Jaguar is an autonomous, on-demand vehicle,” added Ian Callum.

“In a future age of on-demand services and car sharing, our research shows there will still be a place for luxury and premium experiences – and enjoying the drive. People will still want to travel in style and comfort, while the growth of car sharing actually increases the opportunity for people to experience what a Jaguar has to offer, even if they chose not to own one.”

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