The road trip may be an American tradition, but wouldn't it be better if you didn't have to do any actual driving... and could sleep (comfortably!) in your car? That's the vision of one designer, who plans to create self-driving automotive hotel rooms as the next step in the travel experience.
We're always looking for ways to make travel more enjoyable, of course - even those of us who adore being in new places don't usually enjoy getting to those places. Road trips mean long stints behind the wheel of a car, having to stop at public restrooms, and nights in cheap motels. Air travel might be faster, but it's certainly not less stressful - airports are rarely enjoyable places to be, especially with long lines to get through security and to your gate. However, these new self-driving hotel rooms might be just the thing to get you from point A to point B with as little stress as possible.
Called the Autonomous Travel Suite (ATS), these have been designed by Steve Lee of Aprilli Design Studio and won this year's Radical Innovation Award. The design includes a sleeping space (with a memory foam mattress), a workspace, a tiny kitchen, a toilet, a sitting shower and an "entertainment zone", as well as panoramic windows that can be dimmed for sleeping or privacy. The ATS is controlled via an app that calculates the best route to your destination, and can also be plugged into a Parent Suite - a more traditional hotel system that includes gyms, pools, and business facilities.
The ATS is designed for trips between six and ten hours, and will be powered either by electricity or hydrogen fuel cells. They are still in the conceptual phase at the moment, but Lee hopes to get his designs off the drawing board and into the real world (cities on the East and West Coasts of the USA) in around a decade.
These ATSs would definitely mark a huge change in the way that we travel - people would be able to relax and get on with their work or enjoying the company of their companions while getting from a to b (or even simply sleep through the ride in a private vehicle. Electric ATSs would also allow eco-conscious travelers to see more of the country without worrying about the carbon footprint of long gas-powered road trips or plane journeys. It simply remains to be seen how practical these are, and how long it takes before they can become a reality.