Most people following the self-driving car (or AV for autonomous vehicle) scene are convinced that they will be small and they will be shared. It seems logical, because a regular car is parked 94 percent of the time, so why not have it do something useful instead?
I have never found this to be plausible; people build home theatres and dens in their homes that are empty 94 percent of the time when they could go get a better picture in the multiplex. I have been suggesting instead that just as the car changed the form of our houses (making the garage the dominant feature), the AV will as well, becoming an entertainment centre on wheels that plugs into your home.
Now Honda has nailed exactly what I have been talking about with their propose for the Ie-Mobi. Their description:
The Honda IeMobi Concept connects to the home seamlessly, connecting electricity and entertainment information from car to home, and home to car. When parked, IeMobi becomes a “room” with around 5m2 [50SF] of living space. By using IeMobi matching the user’s lifestyle, such as a guest room to invite friends, or a mobile pantry for weekend shopping, new possibilities in mobility and lifestyle are born.
This would be a dream come true for many people. Whereas now people have to get out of their chairs, walk to the garage and get into their cars, in the IeMobi one just tells the chair to move from the big room to the little one. Honda thinks that this will be good for old people, never having to get up from their seats.
But also sends the kid off to school instead of telling him to get a bit of exercise.
It even gets decorated and turns into a traveling birthday party.
The key point of the design that designers should think about is that this rolling box is actually part of the home, integrated right into it. Honda even thinks it might become more than a vehicle but a food truck: “Its use is limited only by the imagination: open an impromptu cafe during the weekend, or a soup cafe or curry shop.”
You can see in the vertiginous video from the Tokyo Motor Show that it really does attach seamlessly to the home, with a glass wall that opens it up to the rest of the space.
In this longer video, you can see how Honda is also building mobile chairs for the elderly, and a robot to watch over everything. Honda is showing the IeMobi connecting to houses, but really you can imagine them climbing walls and clicking into apartment buildings. It could be a home office that actually takes you to the office and clips into the office building side. It might clip onto an IeMobi curry shop for lunch, and then a fitness club with bath and shower so that you never have to stand up and go outside again.