"Once customers do not need to drive anymore...then the question is what kind of things can we offer to customers inside this car," proclaimed Boris Meiners, senior director of Audi China's Digital Business and Customer Experience to Reuters at the CES Asia trade show just days ago.
If you're not paying attention, it could seem like a pretty straight-down-the-line, corporate sales-y kind of statement - and I'm sure to many hoards of futurists distracted by the glossy veneer of all things robotic and shiny at this week's tech tradeshow CES Asia, it might have been.
But that is until you really think about what this means, "when we don't drive anymore". Take away the steering wheel, feeling of control and the joy of driving, and the only act that remains is the experience of being driven. Annnd sorry to be the messenger of our impending dystopia (again), but that is the future we have to look forward to. Unless, of course, you're talking about the rise of electric scooters.... But I digress.
It might be hard to believe, considering we now hold technologies like anti-fatigue sensors, lane departure warnings and driver reviver reminders so dear, not to mention the fact we spend thousands on government campaigns to hark the same message: Pay attention! Eyes on the road!
But in a future where autonomous mobility could be the norm, carmakers might have another new problem on their hands – how to stop occupants from getting bored! [It's unclear whether or not books or music will be part of this new future...]
At CES Asia this week, it was revealed that manufacturers like Nissan, Honda, Hyundai and Audi are seriously looking to virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) as a form of in-car infotainment – particularly once/if Level 4 autonomy becomes a reality.
Audi first demonstrated its interest in VR and AR when it announced its newest subsidiary, Holoride, an in-car VR entertainment solution (and carsickness cure, apparently) at CES in Las Vegas earlier this year. At CES Asia, however, the German brand took that a step further by demonstrating how it could turn the car into a fully immersive experience, using the car’s hydraulic suspension to add motion to a film or game.
There was also a demonstration that showed how a car that was accelerating or going around corners would use physical movement in conjunction with a VR experience – like diving or swimming with whales.
Read more: 2019 Consumer Electric Show Highlights
Nissan, however, said it wanted to create an emotional connection between the ‘driver’ and the car, offering goggles that featured an interactive animation that could communicate with all occupants of the vehicle.
Since China is the world’s largest market for self-driving cars, CES also saw many an autonomous car debuted at the trade show – watch the video below to check out some of the concepts.
What do you think of these future concepts? Are you for kicking back and letting the soft glow of artificial light wash over you while you commute or would you rather rise up against the machines? Tell us in the comments below!