Jaguar's Future-Type concept plots autonomous course to 2040 and beyond
A very different kind of Jaguar "F" Type, the all-new Future-Type concept leaps ahead a few decades, exploring what personal luxury transportation might look like in and beyond 2040. The new concept molds a sleek, self-guiding electric pod around the intelligent Sayer steering wheel previewed earlier this week. In Jaguar's greater vision, artificial intelligence coordinates your everyday transportation needs and takes care of many other daily tasks at the sound of your voice.
Jaguar's Sayer preview foreshadowed a connected device that could control more than just on-demand transportation, leading us to believe that it might double as Jaguar Land Rover's version of an Amazon Echo or Google Home. Indeed, that's what Jaguar has in mind, saying that Sayer's duties would extend beyond the car doors, and it would work as a voice-operated digital assistant helping with hundreds of basic tasks. Jaguar imagines it sitting at home and responding to commands to play music, book dinner reservations, keep track of the groceries and, of course, summon a car.
Where Jaguar's vision runs off the rails a bit is in using the steering wheel as a sort of digital car key or membership card. If you own a private car, the steering wheel would open it up, dock in the dashboard and let you take over driving responsibilities should you choose. If you're a member of Jaguar's on-demand car sharing service, Sayer would serve as your authentication, giving you access to the self-driven ride.
So it sounds like you have to lug around a steering wheel – pretty as it may be – between home, work, errands and other daily trips. We understand Jaguar wants to differentiate the dual-mode, human-drivable nature of its fully autonomous system from autonomous designs that do away with the steering wheel completely, but a portable steering wheel isn't the way to preserve luxury befitting of the Jaguar badge (or any badge). The concept is supposed to look 23 years into the future, but the steering wheel aspect feels mired 23+ years in the past – an intriguing future vision in 1985, maybe, but not 2017.
Now, trade out the steering wheel for a smartphone, key fob or something else light and pocket-sized and Jaguar has a compelling concept. It imagines the Sayer AI system taking care of multiple tasks to streamline your life. After simply telling it what time your business meeting is, it would wake you up in the morning, have a car waiting for you at the door, and make suggestions about the journey, perhaps pointing out spots to grab breakfast or stretches of road that you might have fun grabbing the wheel for a little man-machine joy riding. During the ride, it would also keep you connected with life beyond the car door, allowing you to summon your home, family, friend or work "orbits" from the cloud to check in on people, places and events.
It's easy to imagine how such a digital assistant could take things beyond basic transportation needs, too. For instance, Jaguar mentions that Sayer would know what's in the refrigerator, information it could use to automatically order groceries and arrange delivery using the self-driving fleet.
"Whether it's the exhilarating way they drive, the way they sound, the iconic design or the connection drivers feel with the road, customers tell us that their Jaguar makes them feel special," says Ian Callum, Jaguar design director. "With the Future-Type, we've been investigating how we can keep this emotional connection in a future world where people may choose not to own a car, or when a Jaguar is an autonomous, on-demand vehicle."
As for the actual Future-Type car, Jaguar has made it clear that it's an electric car with fully autonomous capabilities and selectable manual driving mode with automated driver assistance. And of course, nothing yells "future of autonomous driving" like a glass pod dropped on a semi-exposed chassis and faired wheels. The narrow body is optimized for tight urban streets and parking decks.
Inside, a unique 2+1 layout has each seat mounted on its own horizontal axis, a rear-facing front seat providing face-to-face interaction with the diagonal bench created by the front-facing driver and rear passenger seats.
Beyond the mention of an electric drive, Jaguar doesn't detail powertrain specs, but we guess many customers of futuristic on-demand car services probably won't even care how much power or torque is on tap, so long as the drivetrain is reliable enough to complete the journey from A and B.
Jaguar Land Rover revealed the Future-Type concept as part of its Tech Fest, where it also showed a stunning all-electric E-Type. You can explore the Sayer/Future-Type mobility system a little more in the video below. Interestingly, the faceless passenger of the future doesn't seem to be carrying the steering wheel as he steps into the car, so maybe Jaguar imagines it shrinking down to pocket size for easy transport. Still, the smartphone seems like an easier way to go.