For the first time, Italian design house ICONA will come to the Geneva Motor Show, and they’re bringing something very interesting with them.
As far as concept cars go, we’ve kind of seen it all. There are cars that look like modern sedans but are powered by a billion hamsters running on wheels (this doesn’t exist, but we wish it did), and there are concept cars that say they can drive themselves to the moon and back (but they usually can’t—it’s just a concept, after all).
Italian engineering firm ICONA prefers to err on the latter side of concept cars, having unveiled their Neo Concept back in 2015. Then billed as the ultimate car to get around downtown Shanghai, it came with a host of proposed autonomous driving capabilities, but still had a steering wheel coming out of the dashboard.
Now, ICONA is unveiling the Nucleus Concept, a car that they say is the “ultimate self-driving living room.” There’s no wheel. There’s no dashboard. There’s virtually nothing for the passengers to interact with the car at all. It’s being billed as a true Level 5 autonomous car.
For those of you who don’t follow Artificial Intelligence Weekly like some of us, there are five levels of automation in cars. Level 0 is maybe an alarm will sound, and the car might break on its own to avoid a catastrophic collision, but basically, the driver is in control 99 percent of the time. Level 1 is basically stuff like adaptive cruise control—the driver is still in charge, but the car handles some things itself. Levels 2 through 4 is the car taking increasing control over all driving requirements, to the point at Level 4 where the drive can basically fall asleep at the wheel and expect to survive.
Level 5 is the be-all, end-all. It’s a robotic car that can be told where to go and it will take you there, no driver required.
So, along with that impressive feat of technology, the Nucleus will also have no glass. All the body panels will be made of semi-transparent material that allows the occupants to see out but prevent onlookers from seeing in.
Inside is a spacious cabin that can seat 6 very comfortably, to the point of having a couch, seats you can rearrange, and a table that can charge laptops and game systems.
As for when it comes out, sadly, it’s still a concept car. There’s no telling the autonomous driving functions even work. But one can dream of an era where robots perform the mundane task of driving to Grandma’s house while we incorrigible meat-bags play video games.