Seymourpowell has unveiled Quarter Car, an autonomous concept car presenting how the future of ride-sharing will look in urban environments, reinventing the passenger experience through partitions which allow for communal and private journeys within one vehicle. The vehicle is a fully autonomous and battery-electric car that uses clean energy to operate in between urban and suburban environments, representing the emergence of next-generation ride-hailing and the potential to maximize the profitability and efficiency of commercial vehicles.
The interior space is defined by retractable partitions through two central axes of the vehicle, which allows the segmentation of the interior into four individual and sellable 'spaces,' giving service providers the ability to address the needs of a variety of passengers simultaneously within one vehicle. Passengers can book an individual quarter to themselves for a private journey. Alternatively, friends, colleagues or couples can book spaces face to face or side by side, with the potential to book the whole vehicle and enjoy a convivial ride with a group. Booking spaces in partially full vehicles, as well as waiting longer for your pick up, will both be incentivized to ensure the occupancy rate is always as high.
"A key issue within the digital ride-hailing business model is the inefficiency generated from the number of empty seats during journeys," commented Jonny Culkin, Designer at Seymourpowell. "We have identified this as the 'Uber Pool' problem, where despite cost-based incentives, passengers are unwilling to share their journey with other users. It is a significant challenge for vehicle manufacturers and ride-hailing services to overcome in order to unlock revenue and efficiency growth potential.
"With the onset of autonomous, connected, electric and shared mobility, it's time to start defining the first generation of vehicles designed specifically for mobility services. Vehicles like Quarter Car will lead the way in defining a trend of 'Private Shared' vehicles; adaptable spaces that will improve business metrics and passenger experience in one hit."
The passenger experience of Quarter Car is bolstered by in-car digital technology such as transparent glazing displays, gestural interaction capability and artificial intelligence, which supply service providers with the tools they needed to create a cutting edge, personalized and engaging digital experience within their offering. Depending on the service provider, customers will have cost premium, ad-free journeys, while cheaper rides will contain curated and contextually aware advertising. Passengers might also choose to pay for tailored digital experiences for purposes ranging from entertainment, retail through to education, which could include descriptive educational content of famous landmarks, or entertaining video content tailorable to the passenger's requests.
Quarter Car has been created with a variety of applications in mind for this type of service, considering an eclectic mix of industries and sectors which may be attracted into the world of mobility and ride-hailing in the coming years, including hoteliers and airlines, workspaces and luxury lifestyle brands.
"As well as the in-car experience, we envisioned how Quarter Car could be adopted across a variety of sectors for different purposes," Culkin added. "Whether it's basic A to B ride-hailing transportation; a service which airlines employ as a business class benefit for pick up and drop-offs; or even a commercial vehicle utilized by hoteliers to expand its concierge service through bespoke city tours and providing on-the-go, co-working spaces for the modern-day flexible worker."
Seymourpowell also considered the environmental impact of cars of the future and set out to explore how cars can positively impact urban air quality as opposed to the common perception of their negative impact. Quarter Car has been designed as a 'positive emission vehicle', meaning it is fully electric and utilizes energy generated from sustainable sources and therefore does not give off any tailpipe emissions. Additionally, through the application of smart air filtration and early carbon capture technology, Quarter Car has the capability to remove harmful particulates from the air it passes through, whilst also collecting live air quality data which will help allow the city-wide ecosystem to be instantly reactive to air quality issues.
"During the initial design process of Quarter Car, we left no stone unturned when questioning the conventional wisdom of traditional vehicle design," explained Richard Seale Lead Automotive Designer at Seymourpowell. "As part of this process, we began to wonder whether a vehicle could in-fact positively contribute to the air quality of the environment it operates in, rather than the contrary. We believe that if we are going to flood city's with new mobility solutions, in various ways each vehicle should do a little good for every mile traveled, collectively contributing to better living standards for all."
Images: Courtesy of Seymourpowell