What will autonomous cars be like to ride in?

XiM 18 AV interior

Self-driving technology is poised to transform the way we use and pay for personal transport, and will also reshape our expectations of vehicle interiors. Whether we own an autonomous vehicle or treat it like a driverless taxi, today’s familiar approach to cabin layout – with forward facing seats, a dashboard and a steering wheel – is unlikely to be retained.

For Automotive Interiors World I spoke to a variety of experts with specialist knowledge of this topic. Dr Erik Coelingh, vice president at autonomous technology provider Zenuity and formerly of Volvo, talked about the safety implications of interiors with moveable, swivelling, multi-position seating.

Andrew Hart-Barron, head of interior design at VW Group’s Future Center Europe, outlined the shared-vehicle thinking that went into the recent Sedric self-driving concept car.

Han Hendriks, chief technology officer at Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, discussed his firm’s work on versatile interiors and how 3D mapping cameras might detect how people are positioned within an autonomous car’s cabin, for improved comfort and safety.

William Chergosky, chief designer at Toyota’s Calty Design Research facility, looked at the risks of handing over between autonomous and human control as well as the benefits of a car that can tap you on the shoulder when it’s time to pay attention.

Key quote
“I’ve done those kind of tests, in a simulator, and it takes a couple of seconds before you can get your hands on the wheel and understand where you are”
Dr Erik Coelingh, vice president, Zenuity