Italdesign Giugiaro imagines the luxury autonomous car of the future

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The Italdesign Giugiaro GEA is a new concept exploring the luxury autonomous car of the future (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag.com)

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As cars move gradually towards becoming fully automated, it won't just be the way we operate them that will be different. Rinspeed and Mercedes, for example, have both explored the how car design and use may change. Now, Italdesign Giugiaro has imagined what automobile luxury may mean in the future.

Italdesign Giugiaro's new GEA concept is a luxury saloon with four electric motors. In total, it outputs 570 kW of power and has a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). Italdesign Giugiaro calls the concept "a study on the luxury car for the near future." The firm says it believes the focus will shift away from the driver to the passengers in the rear seats.

As with the Rinspeed and Mercedes concepts, the seat configuration of the GEA can be altered to better suit the passengers. Italdesign Giugiaro has actually gone further, though, and created three different usage modes for the GEA.

For business users, a Business Mode bathes the passenger cabin in white light to aid concentration and productivity. The front passenger seat can swivel 180 degrees to face backwards, or can be lowered back to create a desk surface. Passengers can get work done on two transparent 19-in LED screens that lower from the roof.

The GEA's Wellness Mode has been designed in conjunction with high-tech fitness equipment firm Technogym with the aim of allowing the passengers to perform isometric exercises on long journeys. Lighting turns amber for a warmer and more relaxed environment, and there are handles and boards for use during video-guided exercise sessions.

Finally, Dream Mode aims to provide passengers with a place to relax and sleep on long journeys. Windows are darkened and the cabin is bathed in a relaxing blue light. Footrests can be extended out from the rear seats and the right-hand seat can be extended to become a bed. Italdesign Giugiaro says it was seeking to reproduce the experience of flying first class.

The GEA itself is a long and fairly sleek saloon, but with a touch of attitude in its flattened front and rear ends. Its wheels are pretty outspoken too, at 23-in and with 60 gleaming spokes. The chassis is formed of aluminum, carbon fiber and magnesium, helping to keep the weight down to 2,000 kg (4,409 lb). The rear doors open towards the back.

For all its stylistic elements, however, it's the technology in the GEA that really marks it out as a concept of the future. The car can be controlled from the rear seats via a built-in spherical interface or a mobile app. Once the car is in its autonomous mode, the windows darken to provide privacy to those inside. LED light clusters on its exterior change color to indicate its different driving modes.

The driver's instrumentation is completely digital. A 12-in screen with a purpose-designed graphic interface displays information such as speed, engine revs, navigation, battery charge level and residual range. This is accompanied by a 3D holographic display and two 3.5-in screens on either side that display video feeds from cameras mounted on the exterior of the vehicle. Images from a rear camera are shown on the central screen during maneuvers.

The GEA's steering wheel has been configured to only turn up to two degrees. In order to turn the vehicle, a potentiometer is used to sense how hard the the driver is turning in one direction, and the vehicle turns accordingly. The foot pedals have also been replaced by pressure-sensitive pads. Induction charging is used to recharge the car's battery, doing away with the need for a side flap and socket.

The GEA debuted at the Geneva Motorshow. The video below takes a look at the GEA on display in Geneva, and you can see more photos of the car on display there in our gallery.

View gallery - 14 images

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