Autonomous cars are coming, and car manufacturers are exploring the new design possibilities autonomous vehicles provide inside and out. Ford has teamed up with students from Ravensbourne Design College to imagine how the interior of the autonomous Fiesta of the future might look.
Vincenzo Damato and Meryl Le Fleur, the minds behind the Dies Nox interior, have worked to make their interior versatile enough to handle the variety of new interior layout possibilities an autonomous car will open up.
The cabin can be laid out conventionally with four forward-facing seats and the driver surrounded by a 270-degree center console. Along with the standard infotainment functions you'd expect of a current system like SYNC3, it also works as a gaming console when the car is in self-driving mode and the steering wheel and column is retracted.
In the interests of keeping things green, the design integrates recycled plastic into its 3D-printed parts, curved bamboo for structural support and pineapple leather into the seats. Although we've never seen pineapple leather on an options list before, it apparently "carries unique features such as softness, pliability and strength."
Plenty of manufacturers have played around with swivelling seats and wraparound displays, but the Iris eschews those characteristics for a focus on appealing to older drivers who are young at heart – specifically, a 95-year-old "flamboyant fashionista" named Iris who sees herself as "the world's oldest teenager".
Cansu Bal, Seniz Veli and Erdi Bal suggest Iris may use it to get to her lunch dates during the day, before transforming to match her mood as she attends a fashion event at night.
Rather than running with chairs that simply swivel, the individual seats in the Iris concept have their own wheels and can roll out of the car and hydraulically rise and lower to act as mobile stools. So when the passengers arrive at their destination, they can scoot around on their car seats. This is the future, after all. Who walks in 2080?
To reduce the bulk of the mobile chairs, the car's headrests have been integrated into the roof of the car instead. The designers claim this would provide better head support and improve posture.
With the Nomad, Thomas Christie, Shpend Pashtriku and Onur Celik have tried to design a health-conscious interior with sensors within the car monitoring passenger temperature and vital organ function on the move.
The interior also features a cleverly named "Deja View" in which the two front seats are turned around the face the back, the rear seat becomes a leg rest, and the two front passengers can kick back and enjoy the panoramic view out the rear and side windows.
The three concepts above were chosen by Ford designers as the best of the bunch dreamt up by the Ravensbourne design students and will be put on display at the Ford design center in Cologne. The ultimate winner will be invited to the design center for a workshop tour and class with Ford designers.
To check out these concepts in greater detail, take a flick through our gallery.