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Volvo wants to replace aeroplanes with autonomous cars

Yep – travel slower, but smarter. Would you?

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This is Volvo’s new 360c autonomous concept and, as you can see, it’s of the 100 per cent autonomous, mobile relaxation chamber ilk. 

Now, we’ve seen several of these futuristic electric concepts released with the ethos of ‘changing the way you use cars’, but it usually boils down to less sitting in traffic, more homely comforts and social spaces. And the crux is broadly similar here. Except for one major point – Volvo wants the 360c to do more than merely “transform unproductive or boring travel time into useful and enjoyable minutes or hours on the road”. It wants to replace your air miles with… well, road miles. Yep, Volvo wants you to swerve the airport entirely and use its cars to drive you all the way from A to Z, not just A to B. 

The theory is that you can do away with the usual rigmarole of crammed airports and cramped aeroplanes by travelling in your own private cabin. OK, we have a few ideas why you’d rather fly than drive to Dubai, Volvo, but sure, we can roll with it.

Of course, if it’s going to take on air travel, you can safely assume it’ll work for more routine journeys. Volvo says it’ll do quad-duty as “a sleeping environment, mobile office, living room and entertainment space.” So, early-morning, latte-powered brainstorms while your self-driving car sees you down the M25 are within its purview. But Volvo seems to think it’ll tackle something even more futuristic – something that we’ve not even thought of yet. 

“We regard the 360c as a conversation starter,” says Mårten Levenstam, Senior VP of Corporate Strategy at Volvo, “with more ideas and answers to come as we learn more.”

Perhaps one of those answers will be a future alternative to air travel.

The argument is, we assume, that even though it’d take longer than flying, sitting in a self-guided personal travel pod means that every one of the hours spent on the road can be put to something useful – be it work, rest or play – rather than the airport schlep we’re all too familiar with. But would you use an autonomous vehicle as your personal productivity pod? And would you be happy to travel for longer, if you were free to skip the airport argy-bargy and swan along in serene solitude? As always, let us know…

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