Updated: Nov 30, 2018
In an interview given to Roadshow (by Cnet), Nils Wollny, Audi’s head of digital business strategy and customer experienced revealed that the company is collaborating with Disney since over 18 months to form ‘a new type of media’ for self driving cars as well as for more traditional vehicles. He also emphasized that there is a strong commercialization focus from the very beginning and the technology driven product would be revealed at CES 2019.
The self driving car will allow a lot of time on hand for the passengers as the focus on driving is taken away. Audi calls it the ‘25th hour’. This means that the car would become just another moving space and could be redesigned completely to meet the demand for increased passenger consumption of services and entertainment during travel time. So, apart from car OEMs, a number of other companies from telecom, retail, media and entertainment are looking at the autonomous car as a new business opportunity.
According to Audi, what caught their attention was Disney’s Imagineering division, known for transforming spaces, especially with its amusement parks business. In 2017, Audi had already revealed an interior design concept, the Long Distance Lounge Concept, for self driving cars. The concept included lounge like multi-adjustable seats with wooden flooring. It also had high tech windows with embedded TFT foils, making the windows transparent to outside surrounding while information is augmented on them. It also had advanced AR apps which makes it easy to augment the phone itself on to the display units in the car.
Many other car OEMs have launched similar concepts of interiors for self driving cars in the last couple of years. This includes the Volvo’s 360c concept vehicle, the Rolls Royce’s concept vehicle and many others. Most of these consider a steering less, battery at the bottom vehicle which gives a complete, clean 3D space for the designers. Car OEMs are spending huge amounts in such designs to make their vehicles future proof.
On the other hand, Ikea’s innovation lab, Space 10 unveiled its version of self driving car interiors considering the car itself as a place to be furnished in a customized way while e-commerce players like Amazon consider self driving cars as a new space for both delivery destination as well as delivery method. Telecom players consider 5G connectivity as the most important driver to deliver rich media experiences as envisioned by the car players while media companies are considering it as a new infotainment delivery screen or platform.
Although most of these ideas are just at concept stage, Audi seems to be the first to take it a level further with plans for commercialization. It also highlights the need for car OEMs to explore collaboration with other industries to truly rethink the car.
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Image and video courtesy audi.com