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The 7 Surprising Ways You May Be Using Autonomous Cars in the Future

By: Bridget Clerkin October 16, 2018
Self-driving cars provide more time for the passenger, and Ikea's Space10 division is creating transportation solutions to help you utilize that time well.
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In a future where technology is advanced enough to safely chauffeur us from place to place, looking out a window to pass the time is going to seem awfully pedestrian.

Still, as autonomous cars become deft enough to take the wheel, human passengers are going to find themselves with increasingly idle hands.

The coming conundrum of how we’ll occupy ourselves in self-driving cars has already produced some deep thought from automotive designers on how vehicle interiors can become more entertaining.

But leave it to Ikea, the company famous for its build-it-yourself ethos, to come up with even more ways we can assemble the insides of our automobiles.

The Swedish design powerhouse recently spun off a division called Space10 to specifically address populating future automotive interiors. The group is already rolling, releasing a report called “Space on Wheels” that imagines what we may be getting up to while going from Point A to Point B—and how cars can be built to accommodate those activities.

While the project is still purely conceptual, the vehicles in question are very different from those currently on the road.

Part automobile, part train car, the rides are big enough to incorporate several people, some furniture, and even some headroom if occupants choose to stand. The idea? People could summon whichever model they need via an app.

The suggestions of how they can be used cover nearly everything a person could need in a daily routine (note to Space10: what, no gym car?), but with autonomous cars estimated to bring at least $7 trillion worth of new ideas to the automotive industry, these 7 examples likely represent just the beginning of the revolution.

Mobile Office

Depending on your workaholic status, this one may seem like a nightmare—or a dream come true.

An increasing number of employees are already utilizing the WiFi available in buses, trains, and other forms of mass transportation to get more work done during their commute.

An increasing number of employees are already utilizing the WiFi available in buses, trains, and other forms of mass transportation to get more work done during their commute. But the advent of self-driving cars would give every worker the same opportunity.

Space10 takes that evolution to the next step with its proposed “Office on Wheels,” which includes a mini conference table, a couple of chairs, and a white board—among other features—for all of a commuter’s pre-work work needs.

Maybe with all the additional hours being logged, companies around the country will start offering longer lunches.

Coffee to Go

coffee

Ah, the coffee shop: the office for those who work remotely—or otherwise just enjoy a good cup of joe. But to enjoy the coffee shop while on the go? Sounds like many people’s dream.

What the “Café on Wheels” offers is all right there in the name. According to Space10 sketches, the carts include brewing equipment, plenty of places to sit, and even some lovely greenery to liven up the space.

The company says the idea behind the vehicles is to offer people a place to “catch up with a friend” in the midst of a busy schedule. But the observant types who tend to frequent more traditional coffee shops can still get plenty of old-school inspiration from the scenery going by in the car’s ample window space.

Healthy Moves

With this idea, Space10 uses cutting-edge technology to revisit a traditional work model: that of the traveling physician.

The company writes that “Healthcare on Wheels” carts could be used to bring doctors to patients too sick to get out of bed or those with difficulty getting around. The inner chambers would be as hygienic as necessary and carry the essential tools needed to care for such clients.

It could also help chip away at the Last Mile Problem—a much-documented phenomenon in poorer or more rural communities, where residents frequently experience greater difficulty receiving proper healthcare.

Joy Rides

Pokémon Go, on the go?

Space10 brings those ideas to their likeliest conclusion with “Play on Wheels”: a small, pod-shaped car that includes one or possibly two seats surrounded by screens and sensors.

Designers have already proposed a number of augmented and virtual reality applications to help humans pass the time on their driverless journeys. Space10 brings those ideas to their likeliest conclusion with “Play on Wheels”: a small, pod-shaped car that includes one or possibly two seats surrounded by screens and sensors.

Occupants could utilize the vehicle to immerse themselves in any game—or reality—they choose. But the cars could also be used to learn more about this world, with the option of providing real-time content tied into the surroundings passing by.

Overnight Delivery

Unlike the humans they’re replacing behind the wheel, autonomous cars are tireless on the road. With the driving duties taken care of, human occupants won’t have much need for overnight stops.

The “Hotel on Wheels” addresses these issues by offering passengers a place to stay—and sleep—on especially long trips. The concept cars offer all the amenities of a hotel room, including a bed, a bathroom, and a breakfast nook. Room service, sadly, is not included in the design.

Fresh Ideas

SelfDrivingStore

An agricultural answer to Healthcare on Wheels, the company’s “Farm on Wheels” is intended to help bring fresh food to communities typically lacking in just-picked produce.

Space10 drew up several sketches on how the system could work. Some cars are filled with farm stall-like stands brimming over with fresh fruits and vegetables for the picking. Others house more delicate greenery, encased in special pots or hydraulic chambers to ensure quality upon arrival.

In either case, the company says the idea is doubly beneficial, as it could not only help bring better food to more people, but help farmers expand their agricultural reach.

Shopping Spree

The grocery store isn’t the only retail outlet that could benefit from such personal deliveries.

In its final iteration of how future cars could be used, Space10 proposed a “Shop on Wheels,” which could deliver any number of deals directly to a customer’s door.

The idea marries the ease of online shopping with the instant gratification of brick-and-mortar purchases, and may be especially useful for clothing outlets, as customers could use the opportunity to actually try on pieces before making a purchase.

Still, true to form, Space10’s rendition includes a mobile Ikea store—possibly for future customers looking to buy more furniture for their Office on Wheels.

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