Jaguar has already shown us what it believes the steering wheel of the future will look like – now, with the Jaguar FUTURE-TYPE Concept, it’s showing us the rest. Revealed today, at the automaker’s inaugural Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest in London, UK, the FUTURE-TYPE Concept is a vision of what mobility might look like come 2040. Then, JLR suggests, actually owning a vehicle yourself will be unlikely.
Instead, it envisages shared usage being the primary model. All you’d own yourself would be the steering wheel – Jaguar calls that Sayer, a removable wheel with an onboard AI – from which you’d summon a car when required. It’s named after the original designer of the E-Type, Malcolm Sayer.
The car itself, Jaguar suggests, might look like the FUTURE-TYPE Concept. It’s fully electric and surprisingly compact compared to most of the automaker’s current luxury range. In fact, it only seats three.
Those seats are arranged in a 2+1 “social” seating layout, designed to encourage conversation. Meanwhile, the FUTURE-TYPE Concept takes on all the driving itself. Because there’s no specific ownership of any one vehicle, the system can make sure all of its units in the autonomous ride-share network are fully charged and ready when they’re dispatched.
The downside to sharing a car is usually that it never quite feels personal. Jaguar gets around that by making Sayer a key to each aspect of the user’s digital life: work, home, and play. Each is represented as an “orbit” and can be dialed down when not required – like muting work during weekend downtime – or bringing more relevant ones to the fore.
As for those who would rather take control than be driven, there’s some good news there, too. Sayer might be an embodied AI with its virtual fingers deep into your calendar, social graph, and more, but it also works as a regular – albeit futuristic – steering wheel, too. Drivers will be able to manually pilot the FUTURE-TYPE Concept when they choose, at least in Jaguar’s vision of 2040, then hand back the reins when the roads get dull again.
Just as with any of these future concepts, it’s more a thought exercise than anything signaling an actual product. We’re still a long way off self-driving vehicles being commonplace, and there are some lingering questions about Jaguar’s vision: does your gateway to this virtual concierge, chauffeur, and personal assistant really need to be a sizable steering wheel, or could it just be in the phone you’re already used to carrying? Nonetheless, as the role of the driver on the road evolves, figuring out how best to manage infrastructure and transportation is an important question.