VW's Gen.Travel autonomous EV concept features modular seating system
If passengers are traveling in a truly self-driving car, they don't really have to stay in the traditional side-by-side, forward-facing seating position. That's where Volkswagen's Gen.Travel concept comes in, as it allows the seating to be rearranged for different types of trips.
Unveiled last weekend at the Chantilly Arts & Elegance auto show near Paris, the all-electric Gen.Travel is a functional prototype, designed to ultimately reach Level 5 autonomy. That means it could operate without any human intervention.
VW states that the four-passenger gull-wing-doored car constitutes a completely new vehicle category, "in the premium portfolio between sedan and MPV (Multi Purpose Vehicle)." It is intended to be offered in a mobility-as-a-service model, as an alternative to short-haul flights.
Few technical details have been released at this point. Instead, the automaker is promoting the Gen.Travel's unique modular seating system, which is situated within the vehicle's transparent glass cabin.
For instance, if the vehicle is being used for a business trip, its four seats can be positioned around a central table – because, you know … businesspeople are big on holding meetings. For overnight trips, on the other hand, two of the seats can be folded out flat to serve as beds. In this configuration, an automated lighting system triggers melatonin production to help passengers fall asleep and wake up naturally.
Finally, for family outings, the front seats can be equipped with augmented reality systems to keep children entertained. In all the seating arrangements – even when the occupants are lying down – an "innovative passenger restraint system" is claimed to keep them safe.
Extra comfort is provided by an active suspension eABC (electric Active Body Control) system. It calculates the vertical and lateral movements associated with acceleration, braking and cornering ahead of time, and optimizes the vehicle's trajectory and driving style accordingly. Additionally, an AI-enabled platooning system – which will allow the car to travel in a convoy with other autonomous vehicles – should help boost its range by decreasing wind drag.
Plans call for the Gen.Travel to serve as a research vehicle. Feedback from test users may influence the design of future production automobiles.
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