Offering what it thinks is an optimum cabin design for the autonomous car of tomorrow, Volvo unveiled its Concept 26 interior buck at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The name refers to the average number of minutes many U.S. drivers could regain in "more productive activities" during their average daily commute. Although presented as an operational mockup, Volvo says the multi-mode Concept 26 is the first autonomous-drive interior built on an existing vehicle platform, specifically the firm's SPA modular architecture that underpins the XC90 and will underpin other upcoming Volvo models.

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"It's all about people. Our research clearly shows that some people will want to use their commuting time creatively when they have full autonomous drive available, while others will want to just sit back and relax, watch online media or listen to music," said Robin Page, Volvo's vice president of interior design. "Autonomous drive will make all of this possible. This is what Concept 26 has captured by reimagining the car experience."

Three drive configurations

The Concept 26 design allows drivers a choice of three distinct functional configurations -- Drive, Create and Relax - which can be accessed as traffic conditions and the system programming allows. The first is fully conventional driving, albeit one crafted in a way that minimizes unwanted driver distractions. In Create mode, the steering wheel retracts forward and the driver's seat slides aft while a tray-like flat surface extends from the door panel to serve as a desk. Relax mode takes things a step further, reclining the seat, repositioning multifunction central console display and rotating a 22-inch flat screen display into view from the right side of the dash. 

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"Volvo Concept 26 addresses the notion that driving can still be fun and liberating on the right day and on the right road but that some parts of driving, notably the daily commute in many metro areas, is stressful, frustrating and even broken. By providing drivers the choice of when to drive or delegate driving, we are able to retain the love and freedom of the open road while fixing the broken commute," said Anders Tylman-Mikiewicz, General Manager of the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center, the Volvo design center where Concept 26 was researched and developed.

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