Self driving cars will be mobile living rooms, and the Renault Symbioz concept car has this all figured out.
Renault has introduced a new concept car at the Frankfurt Auto Show. The Symbioz is a living room on wheels, so comfortable that it can even become part of your living room. Writer and urbanist Taras Grescoe is appalled:
Appalled, perhaps, but not surprised; we have seen this coming.
There are many prognosticators about self driving cars or autonomous vehicles (AVs) who think that they will be shared, because cars are now parked 96 percent of the time and AVs could be out doing things. I have never thought this made sense; I thought the opposite would be true. People have media rooms and dens in their homes that are empty 96 percent of the time, but people still invest in them because they want comfort and privacy.
Once AVs become common, it is likely that they will become like the big easy chair in front of the TV -- the most comfortable place in the house. Chairs in cars are already infinitely more adjustable and comfortable than chairs in homes, and the sound systems are better too. People will spend a lot of time in them, travelling long distances. As Allion Arieff has noted, “If you can read your iPad, enjoy a cocktail or play a video game while commuting, time spent in the car becomes leisure time, something desirable. Long commutes are no longer a disincentive.”
Renault is not the first to do this. We showed the Hyundai concept earlier this year; see The car of the future will be part of your living room. But the Symbioz is a bit more resolved. According to Car and Driver:
The Symbioz is also intended to serve as an extension of the owner’s living space. The video below shows that the car can drive itself in and out of a house, park itself in a room to serve as a sort of isolated pod, or park next to the house to create an added room. The Symbioz has a retracting dashboard and seats that can swing around for train-style face-to-face seating to create a sort of conversation pod.
So, as the video shows, you can live far away among trees in the countryside, in your beautiful glass house. And in true TreeHugger fashion, your car is actually an elaborate piece of transformer furniture, a multi-functional living space that can take you where you want to go but also becomes like a '60s conversation pit in your living room.
And if you have a fight with your kids, you have another option: you can take your car/living room out onto the roof and look at the stars or whatever. Because for a lot of people, the time they have in their car is the only private happy time that they have in a day; now, Renault has made it acceptable to do it at home, and it is certainly nicer on the roof than it is inside a garage. I can imagine the spouse eventually insisting that the other spouse drive downstairs for dinner right now.
Autonomous cars may be 10x cheaper when shared. Parking them at home would be more wasteful than whatever duplication might avoid.— Wheelist.ca (@Wheelist_ca) September 14, 2017
I really think that that is wishful thinking. People in North America don’t like sharing very much, but they do like big comfortable SUVs. A self-driving mobile living room is a dream come true, so why not actually bring it into the living room? It is probably the most comfortable, best engineered object, built with the highest quality of anything one owns, so why ever leave it?
This is truly the future we want.
UPDATE: Steven M. Johnson, who already has foreseen that self-driving cars will be mobile living rooms, reminds us that back in 1984 he envisioned people bringing their cars into their living rooms (and going to work in pyjamas!).