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Autonomous vehicles are driving beyond mobility

Kristian Aquilina

Published: Updated:

While Autonomous Vehicles (AV) are no new concept within the automotive, retail and logistics industries, the real-world value-add AVs can create has largely flown under the radar.

These vehicles are often referred to as connected automobiles, driverless cars or robo taxis. By definition, these are all correct where the driver is relinquished of all responsibility for driving the vehicle.

Some of the benefits are indisputable. The promise of increased road safety, improved traffic flow and more efficient urban environments are often cited. These all represent a public good with advancements in personal mobility fast becoming altruistic.

Many initial AV design concepts were themed on functional and even the utilitarian purpose of carrying multiple passengers efficiently and comfortably in a shared social space. Hence the box or cube like designs, often with passengers facing each other similar to passengers on a train. But it was at the expense of the profound ability to elevate the individual experience.

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Now we’re seeing vehicles reimagined through the lens of a mobility comprising a hierarchy of needs.
People have options on how to safely get from A to B. Those who have the wherewithal can satisfy their needs such as entertainment choices, massaging seats and uninterrupted views of the sky.

Today’s transport alternatives, including the car, has it all. But in a want it all world, advancing technologies is the constant norm.

And the focus is now on time.

In the UAE, a busy lifestyle with much time spent on the road is part of the daily routine for many. Drivers in the region find themselves spending an average of two hours a day in their car, equating to a staggering 56 hours a month behind the wheel. This is time that could have otherwise been invested in other ways.

Dubai will deploy GM autonomous vehicles in the emirate from 2023. (Twitter)
Dubai will deploy GM autonomous vehicles in the emirate from 2023. (Twitter)

AVs can actually be an innovative solution for busy schedules, unlocking a highly productive workspace. Attention can be diverted towards catching up on emails, fully engaging in a Zoom call or reviewing a PowerPoint before the big pitch.

But it’s an AV’s ability to provide a new space for your life bringing luxury personal mobility to a new level. Equipped to be tech-savvy and effortless with an all-encompassing support system, time spent on the move could very well be a wellness enhancer.

The foundation of this efficiency is simply the notion of providing effortless travel through extraordinary means, enabled by fully autonomous mobility that moves a group of passengers in a luxurious environment or provides advanced connectivity features that support unique wellness experiences.

When autonomous mobility is seen through the luxury lens, the design can be reimagined to focus on wellness and personal experience, rather than driving.

The removal of the driver’s seat gives automakers the opportunity to reinvent the interior space of vehicles and removes the constraints of a fixed position at the front of the seat. This gives more space for serenity and the opportunity for internal facing seats, swivel chairs or fully-reclinable loungers. For passengers, this means the flexibility to talk to each other face-to-face or even catch-up on some needed sleep on the commute to work.

On the exterior, clever design elements such as expansive glass rooves and sides offer unimpeded views, allowing passengers to explore more of the world around them and focus on the journey itself, not just the driving.

The backbone of future mobility is the cutting-edge technologies and advanced connectivity that will allow passengers to link each aspect of their lives.

While personal might imply disconnection, it can also serve as the opposite. Software-defined features will be used to connect with others on the move for interactive video calls, allowing you to catch-up in real-time with loved-ones. What’s more, connected vehicles not only offer the opportunity to connect with the driver’s mobile phone, but inter-connected vehicles can have bi-directional communication with other vehicles, mobile devices and city hotspots.

Electrification and autonomous driving will fundamentally change the role of vehicles and the experiences customers have with them. Where we will go in our near future is journeying on the road where mobility is an ally of wellness, giving customers the luxury of having more personal time.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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