SLOWLY YET surely, we are heading towards an autonomous life, more so with the overwhelming number of self-driven cars making it to the forefront this year, like Google’s much-talked about driverless car. An autonomous car, also known as a driverless car, self-driving car and robotic car, is an automated or autonomous vehicle capable of fulfilling the main transportation capabilities of a traditional car. As an autonomous vehicle, it is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input.
One such unique innovation is Italdesign Giugiaro’s concept car, the Gea, touted to be a study on the cars of the future. The concept car was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show recently by Volkswagen Group-owned design house Italdesign Giugiaro.
Described as an Audi-style autonomous electric luxury saloon of the future, the four-wheel-drive Gea is 5,370-mm-long—some 235 mm longer than an Audi A8. It is powered by four electric motors (two at the front and two at the rear) with a combined power output of 764 bhp. The top speed is 155 mph.
The concept has been designed by Italdesign’s styling chief Wolfgang Egger who moved to the design house from Audi last year. The firm describes the Gea as having the look of a “stylish saloon with a sporty twist”.
Notable exterior design features on the Gea, which is made from lightweight materials, including aluminium, carbon fibre and magnesium for a kerb weight of just over 2,000 kg. The lights glow white when the Gea is being driven by the driver, and blue when it is driving itself in autonomous mode.
Access to the cabin is through rear-hinged doors. The focal part of the cabin is the rear, where an integrated smartphone controls major vehicle functions and allows one of three interior modes to be selected: Business, Wellness or Dream.
In Business mode, the Gea turns into a travelling office, where two 19-inch transparent LED screens come down from the roof. The front passenger seat can be swivelled 180 degrees, or folded down, where it can be used as a work top.
In Wellness mode, the Gea becomes a mini gym. Aluminium handles in the rear seats can be used for upper body exercises, and boards come out of the floor for leg exercises. There is also a fridge between the two rear seats to store drinks. Instructional videos produced by fitness firm Technogym can be played on the screens.
In Dream mode, the Gea becomes a relaxing environment, with blue LED lighting and the ability for one of the rear seats to fully recline and link up with a front seat to become a bed, similar to that of a first class seat in an airliner.
Premium, natural materials are used throughout the cabin, and the driver gets all driving information via a 12-inch screen. Three buttons on the control stick-style steering wheel control the driving of the car, and whether it is in autonomous mode or being operated by the driver.