What if rush hour traffic vanished? What if your office came to you, instead of vice versa? Imagine the possibilities, imagine the convenience, imagine…roving happy hour?
To the uninitiated, there's a new concept known as “automobility,” that enables your car to drive itself and morph into your office with a set of wheels - making self-driving cubicles a reality. The only thing missing would be the coworker who always picks the worst time to talk sports.
But would working in a self-driving car really be necessary? If you’re already afforded the autonomy of working from home, is there really a perk with this? Those that could stand to benefit might be sales reps and consultants, and just about anyone that’s on the road all day. Want to see a modular office for yourself? A super futuristic demo can be found here:
How it will work
When you’re driving (and working) through downtown, your self-driving office will lock into a citywide grid system designed to prevent gridlock. The technology will utilize radar, infrared sensors, and a vision system where projector elements will reflect visuals linking to other cars in close proximity to ensure harmony. But what if the grid is hacked or overcapacity and goes down? What if an EMP explodes in the sky? In that case you'd quickly have rush hour take the form of a long, backwards in time march home where hopefully you’d have the moon to help you follow the river.
Need a package delivered before the meeting starts? No problem. Other projections for work day dynamics include a modular “deliverbot” designed to deliver your packages. It will even broadcast its whereabouts to your rolling office so you know it’s in the area, just in case you need to ship something out. Is this a good idea? After all Stephen Hawking recently warned that artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. Yikes- is it possible you’re going to end up really missing that friendly delivery person with the shorts and baseball hat?
Roving happy hour anyone?
One possible upside to the self-driving modular office is the potential for sight-seeing during happy hour. Trouble planning a destination for your next work meeting? No problem. You’ll have the ability to ask your finely calibrated machine to surprise you. Since you’ll get to see westbound sunsets and colorful foliage it will surely make for a more interactive team discussion- if anyone’s paying attention that is. Though considering that you’ll have a permanent designated driver it could be safer. But other than a few fun moments, would many workers actually benefit from a self-driving, modular office?
The complete “driveable” experience of the future may take about 15 to 20 more years according to Ideo. However, there’s already a transition underway towards more modest upgrades in connected driving that offer a simpler driving experience.
BMW states on its website that, “ConnectedDrive will offer you greater comfort so you can focus on the essentials. It also gives you the choice: travel guide, entertainer, or guardian angel - you decide who your traveling companions should be.”
With Shell and Volkswagen also recently announcing co-innovation with SAP, in this case for connected fueling, clearly there are a few changes for the drive ahead. However, there is a big difference between the added conveniences of connected driving finding you a better parking spot or a cup of coffee and a completely self-driving office operating on a network grid that communicates with robots.
I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts. How do you think automobile insurance carriers would manage and price the coverage for these self-driving vehicles? Would a self-driving office on wheels be worth the sacrifice of freedom and control? Would it enhance or complicate your work life, or are you just fine with a few new upgrades offered by a more connected car?