Imagine rearranging the seats in your car to watch a movie on a big screen in the dashboard. Or controlling functions like air conditioning by touching the window. Or replacing rearview mirrors with cameras that give you a live-action look at the surrounding traffic.
Those are just some of the ideas car makers and designers are kicking around as they imagine a driverless future. When cars can largely navigate roads on their own, there’s no need for the interior design to rigidly follow the model established in the early days of automobiles. The inside of driverless cars might look more like living rooms or meeting places on wheels, with a focus on flexibility and entertainment.
Industry officials say fully autonomous and shared-mobility vehicles may be a decade or more away, but increasingly high-tech interiors will start showing up in the next few model years. On the latest luxury-car models, information has begun to move from digital instruments behind the wheel to head-up displays projected on the windshield, so drivers can monitor things like speed and turn-signal indicators without looking down. And other amenities are in the works, such as seats that fully recline or rotate 180 degrees, dashboard ice chests and ambient lighting.