The VW OnePod imagines an autonomous electric future in which we will all travel in boxes

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Industry leaders are heading towards level 5 autonomy, but it will be years before they do, and we’ll have self-driving cars on the road. In the meantime, it’s okay to imagine what that not-so-distant future might look like.

Concept cars are a good way to do this. Most of the big brands have already presented their proposals, and the common theme seems to be that, without the driver, the car will become a real salon on wheels. Robotaxis will be the future of urban mobility, and when it comes to private ownership, cars will become the place to disconnect from the hectic routine of daily life, a rolling office, an entertainment center, or even a hotel-like vehicle. .

Taking into account the electric transmission and the removal of all controls and driving equipment, there will be more space inside the cabin. With the desire to further maximize this space, the car of tomorrow becomes a box on wheels – a pretty box with a little futuristic appearance, but a box all the same. A pod, as automakers are more likely to call it.

Volkswagen is the latest to join the movement with its new OnePod concept.

Developed by the Volkswagen Group Future Center Europe in Potsdam for the DRIVE. OnePod is a concept study developed for the specific purpose of showing how the switch to electric and achieving full range will theoretically influence VW vehicles. The “A” in the name means “A solution for all” since it would be a vehicle offered with a customizable configuration that would make it suitable for everything from public transport (robotaxis) to private property or service fleets. The “Pod” is self-explanatory.

OnePod is a cute box that looks small but has plenty of space inside. The Go.City model, which is part of the “Go.City – The Future of Urban Mobility” program, can accommodate up to six passengers and comes with a foldable bicycle rack at the rear to also integrate a solution of the latter. kilometer. The sliding doors open, allowing easy access even for disabled people or people carrying luggage and strollers.

To that same end, the OnePod’s sensors immediately detect the height of the curb when it comes to a stop and the vehicle lowers the ground for step-free entry. In the case of a robotaxis, access to the interior will be granted once the pod has identified the passenger (s) and opened the door. A display in the door welcomes and informs the pilot of each step of the process.

OnePod, like many other similar concepts, comes with expansive glazing and windows that double as screens. Large panels surround the vehicle and another sits in the roof so passengers can choose between taking in the views on their journey or watching their favorite show. The controls for the pilots are integrated into the adjustable armrests.

Communication with the outside world is via light strips on the front and back and a screen on the front. Volkswagen notes that this system “Inform and warn other road users”, which, again, is not a new idea and has been presented in similar concepts.

“Electromobility and autonomous driving give us more freedom in the design, as the space inside increases, among other things, and this offers completely new design options. ” Peter Wouda, Head of Volkswagen Group Future Center Europe, explains. “With the OnePod, we are following this evolution and also offering children and the elderly in particular an additional and new option to move around the city individually, in an ecological and safe way.”

Eco-friendly and safe are just two of the attributes that would describe OnePod, but not original or particularly beautiful. On the contrary, this new concept confirms what many have been saying for months: With the driver out of the question, it seems automakers are struggling to adapt, at least from a design standpoint.

That said, if you’re in Berlin, Germany, by December 31, 2021, you can see the OnePod at DRIVE. “Go.City – The future of urban mobility” exposure.


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