Ford is planning an autonomous car that will turn into a lounge
Ford is the next automaker to work on driverless technology. The company is developing a self-driving vehicle with seats that can be turned inward while driving to turn the vehicle into a lounge, reports Business Insider. However, the idea is not new.
This month the US Patent and Trademark Office received a patent application from a group of Ford employees for an “autonomous car with reconfigurable seats.” It is an important step for Ford to now dive into the world of self-driving cars. The engineering program, in which the renowned MIT and Standford are also involved, starts at the company’s research and innovation center in Palo Alto, California. to better assess the research and new challenges in the field of automated driving.
A living room for Ford
And this is how it works: when the car is in autonomous mode, the passenger cabin can be converted into a lounge. By rotating the armchairs, the average family limousine becomes a private jet suitable for the road. The front seats can be rotated 180 degrees through one configuration, resulting in an open lounge. A business meeting or a family get-together can be integrated into a long journey. In this arrangement, the steering wheel on the dashboard can then also be retracted in order to have more legroom.
Not a new idea
However, the idea of rotating seats is not entirely new. At the CES in Las Vegas, Daimler presented a silver self-driving car with a futuristic, elongated shape that has rotating front seats in its interior – because a driver should be superfluous. Tesla and the car tuner Rinspeed have also asked themselves the question: What does the driver do when the car is driving himself? The Xchange, based on Tesla’s Model S., has seats that are “reminiscent of the relax seats in the business class of large airlines,” explains Rinspeed. They can be tilted so that the driver and passenger can take a nap while on the move. But they can also be rotated so that both look out of the rear window
Forcher, however, see sitting backwards in the car as a problem: Researchers at the University of Michigan, USA, come to the conclusion that travel sickness will be a problem in self-driving cars. However, the researchers have a suggestion ready for the car designers: large windows, screens that force the occupants to look ahead, and no swiveling seats.
Ford on the back
But even with this new type of patent, Ford still seems to be well behind its competitors. Audi, BMW and Volvo have fully autonomous technologies under development that work without the driver having to do anything. In fact, these cars are already being tested on the road.
According to Business Insider, there is no word on a patent from Ford. It is therefore also uncertain whether the concept will become reality: “We always register patents for innovative ideas. This is a completely normal course of business, ”a Ford representative told the Business Insider in an email. “Patent filings help protect new ideas, but they are not necessarily future business or product plans.