Volvo: Self-driving Cars Will Compete With Air Travel

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Volvo showed off its latest autonomous-car design, the 360c, at a recent auto show in Los Angeles, and noted that the fully self-driving vehicle, expected to be ready in 2021, would compete not only with other automobiles, but with short-haul aviation options. “Several busy domestic air routes, such as New York to Washington D.C., Houston to Dallas and Los Angeles to San Diego, are more time-consuming by air than by car when including things such as travel to the airport, security checks and waiting times,” Volvo noted in a news release. The car will come in several versions—a sleeping pod, mobile office, living room and entertainment space—enabling travelers to spend their time en route as they wish.

“Domestic air travel sounds great when you buy your ticket, but it really isn’t,” said Marten Levenstam, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Volvo Cars. “The 360c represents what could be a whole new take on the industry. The sleeping cabin allows you to enjoy premium comfort and peaceful travel through the night and wake up refreshed at your destination. It could enable us to compete with the world’s leading aircraft makers.” The 360c “represents a potentially lucrative competitor to short-haul air travel, a multibillion-dollar industry comprising airlines, aircraft makers and other service providers,” the company said.

Comments (8)

Trains, buses, and shuttles already fulfill this function.
Personally "I' would not sleep in a car that is run by a Swedish programmers' interpretation of what happens in American traffic.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 3, 2018 8:44 PM    Report this comment

Riding in a train, bus, or shuttle along with the great, unwashed masses, in non-ergonomic seats, dragging bags into overheads or stuffed under the seat, doesn't come close to riding in your own car, with your own A/C controls, your own snacks, and your own music.

Personally, I think autonomous cars are farther away than most people realize. As one Toyota engineer put it, "the more we work on self-driving cars, the more impressed we are with how well people drive."

But, once they 'solve' the problem, even if it's only for limited-access highways and major cities, then short-haul airline flights are in serious jeopardy.

Posted by: Kirk Wennerstrom | December 3, 2018 9:14 PM    Report this comment

I agree with Kirk. Airline companies need to think of themselves as transportation companies, and extend themselves into rail, bus, and auto. Intra-urban trains are much more convenient and efficient than schlepping to some airport an hour or more away from a city center, the same could be said for intra-urban busses if the highways weren't so inadequate.
The real problem is too many people occupying too little space. Human population is exceeding it's natural limits. And in the process, consuming and destroying the very planet on which it depends.
Yeah, I know off topic, but heck, this is an issue which underlies many of the problems society faces, and which sits like the elephant in the room that no one talks about.

Posted by: Richard Katz | December 4, 2018 6:56 AM    Report this comment

What problem?
if you want personal luxury without having to be near the lower classes nor sully yourself with actually having to exert yourself to drive your own car, hire a chauffeur. Heck, you don't have to change the current car design to do that, you don't have to change the roads, it's way cheaper, and you look even more important when you arrive at your destination.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 4, 2018 7:05 AM    Report this comment

" The car will come in several versions--a sleeping pod, mobile office, living room and entertainment space--enabling travelers to spend their time en route as they wish."

Can you imagine the condition of the sleeping pod, mobile office, living-room and entertainment space after John Q Public has inhabited them for a few hours? Each pod will become a science project. I can't hardly wait to climb into the sack of a sleeping pod depending upon some sort of attendant to clean everything prior to me.

Oh, I forgot...their will be autonomous cleaning to take care of autonomous driving pod, over-seen by an autonomous dispatcher, after taking one's money autonomously via credit card

I wonder if we can autonomously work? Then we don't have to do anything thereby not have any need for travel...problem solved...No one does will be autonomous!

Posted by: Jim Holdeman | December 4, 2018 8:57 AM    Report this comment

Unless there is some big breakthrough in the next couple years, self-driving cars are not likely by 2021. Just too many variables. Designing a car to self-guide down a freeway is one thing, but dealing with all the idiots on the road and the unexpected things that pop up is another matter.

Also, I'm not sure how large their design must be if it could be used as a "living room". Sounds larger than a Lincoln Navigator is today. Not exactly fuel efficient.

Posted by: John McNamee | December 4, 2018 6:14 PM    Report this comment

Geez, self-driving Volvo's ruining air traffic in 2021 followed the next year by a supersonic bizjet which will ruin that self-driving car market (and oh by the way hasn't yet been started).

I wanna know what these people are smoking? I don't know what it is but I want to try it out.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | December 5, 2018 6:30 PM    Report this comment

A pilot friend of mine has a Son who is an ex-pat living in Japan. He just did a post of him having to spend a night in one of those people pod hotels at some airport there. He said it was disgusting. And that's in a Country which is pretty fastidious. No thanks.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | December 5, 2018 6:34 PM    Report this comment

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