New Ford Patent Reveals Shape-Shifting Car Interior
Whether you choose to buy one or not, the autonomous car appears more and more to be the wave of the future, as evidenced by an array of self-driving concepts from the world’s automakers. Ford Motor Company is not prepared to let this emerging segment pass by, and a recently approved patent application suggests one of the key facets of future self-driving cars—a reconfigurable lounge-style interior. The patent, approved on August 4, details a vehicle layout in which front-row front-facing seats can be spun, tucked away, or otherwise adapted to allow rearward seating, all while the vehicle is in autonomous motion. PatentYogi took a closer look at the possibilities of this vehicle layout, explained in the video below. RELATED: Check Out the 2015 Audi RS 7 Self-Driving Concept
According to a report from Business Insider, the patent lists a number of ways to rearrange the front seating, one of which includes captain’s chairs that rotate in place thanks to electric motors. While driving, those sitting in the front of the car could press a button, shift the center console out of the way, and rotate in place to face the rear of the vehicle.
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Other depictions show a seating arrangement that shifts forward to the dashboard to create a rear ottoman, seats that fold down and stow within the footwells, and even bench seat-backs that can slide forward to accommodate rearward facing passengers. Though depicting a sedan in its patent drawings, the document notes that the layout could be applied to any number of Ford autonomous vehicles—from trucks to SUVs, and taxis to buses.
If implemented, this type of arrangement permits greater passenger interaction, which could very well become the top selling point of future self-driving cars. Rather than A-to-B means of commuting, autonomous cars become mobile meeting spaces, lounges, or living rooms.
Ford certainly isn’t the only company investigating reconfigurable autonomous car interiors. Mercedes-Benz has received praise for its F 015 concept car, which features four swiveling passenger seats in a luxurious package. Automotive think-tank Rinspeed also crafted its XchangE concept, which features a reconfigurable steering wheel location and swivel seating. Expect more concepts to follow as well.
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