The basis of the 360c is a fully autonomous, fully electric car without a human driver. The concept capitalizes on the freedom in design afforded by the absence of a steering wheel and a combustion engine, providing the ability to re-imagine the traditional placement of passengers in rows of two or three.
The 360c presents four potential uses of autonomous driving vehicles – a sleeping environment, mobile office, living room and entertainment space – which all re-imagine the way people travel. It also introduces a proposal for a global standard in how autonomous vehicles can safely communicate with all other road users.
The 360c represents a potentially lucrative competitor to short-haul air travel, a multibillion-dollar industry comprising airlines, aircraft makers and other service providers. Especially shorter routes where the distance between origin and destination is around 300 kilometers are prime candidates for disruption by an alternative mode of travel. For example, within the United States over 740 million travelers embarked on domestic flights last year and America’s domestic air travel industry is worth billions of dollars in revenue. Several busy domestic air routes, such as New York to Washington DC, Houston to Dallas and Los Angeles to San Diego, are more time-consuming by air than by car when including things such as travel to the airport, security checks and waiting times.
However, autonomous technology will be introduced gradually rather than overnight. As a result, fully autonomous cars will be introduced in a mixed traffic situation where driverless cars without a human driver will share the road with other road users. In such a traffic situation, it will no longer be possible to make eye contact with and learn about another driver’s intentions, a central element of today’s everyday traffic interaction.
As part of the development of the 360c, Volvo Cars safety engineers decided to tackle this challenge of how to establish a safe means of communication between fully autonomous cars and other road users. Additionally, the focus was to create a universally applicable standard, so that other road users do not have to consider the make or brand of individual autonomous cars. The 360c addresses this challenge with a system comprising external sounds, colors, visuals, movements, as well as combinations of these tools, to communicate the vehicle’s intentions to other road users. This means it is at all times clear what the car will do next.
It presents four potential uses of autonomous driving vehicles – a sleeping environment, mobile office, living room and entertainment space – which all reimagine the way people travel.
Inside the sleeping environment, Volvo Cars’ safety engineers have also looked at the future of safety technology and how a different passenger positioning could influence safety. A special safety blanket included in the sleeping environment envisions a future restraining system that works just like the three-point safety belt, but is adjusted to people lying down while travelling.