Motoring 2040: Drivers Not Wanted
While Volkswagen's "Drivers Wanted" tagline has earned itself a place in the Advertising Slogan Hall of Fame, a pair of San Francisco-based industrial designers, Mike and Maaike, have created a suitably futuristic alternative take on that theme for the year 2040. Dubbed the ATNMBL (for Autonomobile), this seven-passenger people mover has no steering wheel, no brake pedal or any other conventional controls, because it has no driver. Step inside through the ATNMBL's full-length sliding glass door, and the vehicle will simply ask: "Where can I take you?" Tell it where you want to go via voice recognition, touch screen or even phone-based inputs (Mike and Maaike also were responsible for designing the G1 Google phone) and you're on your way, watching the world go by in a lounge-like environment complete with large-screen info/entertainment console that lets you stay current with your progress while watching TV, a movie or surfing the Internet. The ATNMBL design brief calls for an electric motor in each wheel that will draw energy from a battery pack mounted beneath its floor as well as a solar panel array on its roof. And when you do arrive, the amiable ATNMBL will even go off and find its own parking spot. Whether Mike and Maaike have come anywhere close to defining the automotive world of 2040 remains to be seen; and whether the ATNMBL best qualifies as being more of a dream or a nightmare comes down to one's personal driving sensibilities. But if nothing else, this revolutionary concept does raise some intriguing questions about the future of personal mobility as we move further into the 21st century.