One of the most exciting things about the coming age of autonomous driving is all the ways it will free designers from constraints like forward-facing seats, a steering wheel, and the need to pay attention. Connected car company Harman and automotive design firm Rinspeed explore this new freedom in the questionably named “Σtos” concept, envisioning what cars might look like when a human driver becomes a thing of the past.

01

Let the human drive, sometimes.

OK, a human will be in charge at least some of the time. No matter what Google says, the day when robots take over driving altogether remains a great many years away. That’s why Harman’s connected car concept still includes a steering wheel, gear shifter, and pedals.

Harman

OK, a human will be in charge at least some of the time. No matter what Google says, the day when robots take over driving altogether remains a great many years away. That’s why Harman’s connected car concept still includes a steering wheel, gear shifter, and pedals.

02

Organize your life.

As you clamber inside, the car will detect a signal from your cellphone to figure out who you are, and coordinate your calendar, contacts, email, and other things to optimize your time on the road.

Harman

As you clamber inside, the car will detect a signal from your cellphone to figure out who you are, and coordinate your calendar, contacts, email, and other things to optimize your time on the road.

03

Let the robot take over.

When the robot is in charge, the suddenly vestigial steering wheel collapses into the dashboard (recent concepts from Volvo and Audi do the same). That leaves the human in the driver’s seat, as well as her passenger, free to play with the 21.5-inch 4K displays in front of their eyeballs.

Harman

When the robot is in charge, the suddenly vestigial steering wheel collapses into the dashboard (recent concepts from Volvo and Audi do the same). That leaves the human in the driver’s seat, as well as her passenger, free to play with the 21.5-inch 4K displays in front of their eyeballs.

04

Separate screens, together.

Those screens are all about making the riding experience comfortable and convenient, Harman says. Each features three “tiles,” or chunks of content, that can be arranged based on personal preference, or even sent to the neighboring screen with a swipe.

Harman

Those screens are all about making the riding experience comfortable and convenient, Harman says. Each features three “tiles,” or chunks of content, that can be arranged based on personal preference, or even sent to the neighboring screen with a swipe.

05

Robot in charge.

The car of the future is like the London of today—there are cameras everywhere. They’ll be outside the vehicle, helping with the driving and parking. They’ll be inside, for when you want to use those big ol’ screens to Skype someone. Harman’s even exploring using cameras to watch drivers’ pupils for signs of distraction. Even in mostly autonomous vehicles, it’s good to know when the human’s paying attention, in case the robot needs an assist at the wheel.

Harman

The car of the future is like the London of today—there are cameras everywhere. They’ll be outside the vehicle, helping with the driving and parking. They’ll be inside, for when you want to use those big ol’ screens to Skype someone. Harman’s even exploring using cameras to watch drivers’ pupils for signs of distraction. Even in mostly autonomous vehicles, it’s good to know when the human’s paying attention, in case the robot needs an assist at the wheel.

06

Get your reading done.

Where the driver gets a steering wheel, the passenger gets … a bookshelf. It’s not exactly the first thing you’d expect to find in a car made for the future, but Harman believes paper books will hold sway—and that there’s a place for humor in concepts cars like this one.

Harman

Where the driver gets a steering wheel, the passenger gets … a bookshelf. It’s not exactly the first thing you’d expect to find in a car made for the future, but Harman believes paper books will hold sway—and that there’s a place for humor in concepts cars like this one.

Excerpt from: 

The Self-Driving Car of the Future Comes With … a Bookshelf