Whether you let your Tesla take over in traffic or you’re satisfied with a car’s power ending at cruise control, consumer vehicles cannot fully drive themselves yet. But as novel and new as the whole “self-driving cars” thing is, it’s already melding into a big puddle of blah. Take the Audi Aicon concept, for example.
The Aicon, according to a press release, is a four-door electric sedan that’s fully autonomous and “boldly leaps ahead to show the exterior and interior design of the next decades.” Audi claims the concept should be able to go between 435 and 497.1 miles on a charge, and the car has no wheel or pedals. (The best part about the future is that you won’t even be able to take back control from the robots if you want to!)
Without all of those space-wasting driving controls, Audi said the concept car will have the “luxurious ambiance of a first-class airline cabin” with plenty of electronics and such for you to play with while bored in traffic. The front seats can also be swiveled around to talk to people sitting on the back bench.
The press release probably said a lot more in its 38 paragraphs and nearly 3,000 words on the Aicon—plus a link to more information, which apparently was not gotten across in company’s foray into novel writing—but there is only so much time in a day.
The problem isn’t the details of this concept car that’ll likely never make it to production in its current form; it’s the fact that it looks like so many of the other autonomous concepts out there. They’re so similar—low stance, wheels perfectly flush with the side of the car, almost entirely glass roofs, funky grilles that look like a computer simulation and exterior lights that just have to look like they’re wearing fishnet leggings—that it’s all beginning to meld together.
Plus, why do all of these interior designs look like miniature conference rooms? No matter how well a car drives itself or how confident you are in looking away from the road, the last thing this world needs is more conference rooms.
I like to believe I’m not exaggerating, so let’s take this Aicon and put it next to two other autonomous (or prepared for autonomy, in BMW’s case) concept cars: the BMW Vision Next 100 and the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion.
On the low stance, wheels perfectly flush:
On that glass roof that spreads from sea to shining sea:
On the funky grilles that look like computer simulations:
On that fishnet exterior lighting trend:
And on the conference-room interiors:
(BMW, thankfully, put solid taillights on its concept. It also, thankfully, did not make its autonomous-prepped interior into a conference room.)
Maybe all of these futuristic, driverless four-seater concepts looking the same is a real problem. Maybe I’m just resistant to change, fueled by the constant fear that robots acting for themselves will one day kill us all.
But if there’s anything I do know, it’s that the future should be exciting and I am not excited.