Volvo Car manufacturing is taking a shot at the aviation industry. They believe that self-driving vehicles might counter the need for short-haul flights.
The Sweden-based carmaker unveiled on Wednesday a project to look at how autonomous vehicles can be used to shuttle people between cities. This will allow travelers more time for rest, work and play instead of the hassle of flying.
“Domestic air travel sounds great when you buy your ticket, but it really isn’t,” Marten Levenstam, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Volvo Cars, said in a statement. Autonomous cars fitted with sleeping cabins “could enable us to compete with the world’s leading aircraft makers.”
Air travel routes of around of around 200 miles are “prime candidates for disruption,” the company said. That mileage is just less than the distance between New York and Boston, one of the country’s busiest aviation corridors. The downside will be the increased road traffic and the subsequent congestion.
Volvo Cars, which is owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Co., is likely to be considering an initial public offering later this year. It predicts cars that are able to drive themselves will make up one third of its deliveries by the middle of the next decade. A share sale will be designed to raise funds to develop new technologies. The company has been transformed under Geely’s ownership. It is now working on alternatives to car ownership such as subscription systems.
The latest project is being called 360c, and it is a “conversation starter,” according to Volvo. The company didn’t provide details on when its fully autonomous, electric vehicles may hit the roads, but said when they do, they could be used as bedrooms, mobile offices, and entertainment spaces.
“The business will change in the coming years,” Chief Executive Officer Hakan Samuelsson said. Autonomous driving will improve safety and “allow consumers to spend time in the car doing what they want to do.”