French automaker Citroën unveiled its Urban Collëctif range, created as part of a partnership with the Accor hotel conglomerate and outdoor advertising corporation JCDecaux, a report by MotorTrend reveals.
That eclectic combination of companies has produced a series of tailor-made pods that attach to an autonomous modular driving platform. The concept is aimed at enhancing the comfort of urban mobility while allowing a number of companies to provide their services on the road.
'Autonomous and for everyone'
In a press statement, Citroën claims that its machines are a vision of the "urban mobility of tomorrow," which they say is "autonomous and for everyone." This future vision involves pods in which people can lounge or do exercise as an autonomous system transports them around the city. The machines would be constantly on the move, a swarm of autonomous machines, each of which would go where needed and change pods based on their users' needs.
"The model relies on a fleet of The Citroën Skate transport robots that move around cities non-stop and are, paired with Pods that promise unique experiences," Citroën says. "The Citroën Skate is the medium and the conveyor of mobility. The Pod, attached to The Citroën Skate, allows its users to enjoy their preferred service, whenever they wish."
All of the pods would be mounted aboard Citroën's autonomous chassis called the Skate, which is currently in the concept stage. If it ever becomes a reality, it will use omnidirectional wheels called Eagle 360 by Goodyear and will utilize sensors for autonomous driving as well as wireless induction charging.
On-demand modular machines
Citroën's approach adds flexibility and modularity to the concept of autonomous vehicles providing on-demand transportation in the future. As this vision would mean fewer car owners in the future, Citroën says that its "new model for shared autonomous mobility" will "help to decongest cities and enhance comfort." The company also envisions many different creative collaborations with different companies, including the 'Sofitel En Voyage', a luxury hotel space on wheels. Another pod, called 'Pullman Power Fitness', would contain a rowing machine and bike machine.
Though the Skate concept does have the potential to enhance urban mobility, it's not hard to imagine a dystopian scenario in which similar concepts flood the sector, turning it into a strongly consumer-focused affair in which the daily commute is hijacked by companies selling their services on wheels. As such, Citroën's Skate platform could open up urban mobility and the commute as a whole new avenue in which companies can provide their services to the world, for better and for worse.
In any case, for Citroën's vision to come true, autonomous driving still has a long way to go as car manufacturers are yet to achieve level three autonomy on the roads — and the scale goes up to six. Still, it's a fascinating, unusual vision from the French firm. Citroën isn't the first to propose a modular platform for the future, though it may well be the first to propose an open-source approach that would mean any company could provide a service during transportation, such as advertising or even fitness machines for citizens getting from point A to B.