What’s Next: Autonomous Luxury


Aston Martin’s electric Lagonda Vision Concept car, projected for release in 2021, will have a 400-mile “real world” range and Level-4 autonomy.

It seems as if every car maker is jumping on the Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) bandwagon. The latest comes from Aston Martin, a luxury British automaker. According to Aston Martin’s press release, the electric Lagonda Vision Concept car (Figure 1) is “the world’s first zero emission luxury brand,” an electric car with a 400-mile range. At this point, the Lagonda is just a concept, with aspirations to release as a Level-4 vehicle by 2021.

Figure 1: The Lagonda Vision Concept, due in 2021, promises to “…break through long-standing boundaries and transform the way people perceive luxury transport.” (Image: Aston Martin)

Since autonomous cars require a massive number of sensors and computers, the price tag will be well out of reach of the ordinary citizen. Undoubtedly, car makers are racing to be first-to-market with an AV to fill Uber-like fleet (high volumes) and luxury (high price tags) models as the motivation. Aston Martin is late to the game but lavish in presentation, with “…a cabin that surprises, shocks and fascinates, where silk carpets and hand woven wool upholstery live in perfect harmony with carbon fibre trim and functional ceramic tiles that open and close to alter the ventilation and adjust the volume of the music.”

The Lagonda Vision Concept anticipates design “…commensurate with level four autonomous driving, meaning the car is capable of driving itself in all routine circumstances and on all recognisable roads. As a result, the steering wheel can not only move from left to right hand drive according to need, in autonomous mode it can also retract entirely, allowing front seat passengers to rotate through 180 degrees to engage in face to face conversation with those in the back.” With this feature Lagonda owners will be able to deliver postal mail in the U.S….or drive in the U.K. one week and in the U.S. the next.

There’s also room for Intel’s vision of the new service economy inside AVs, as Aston Martin predicts “…bespoke concierge services and a level of connectivity and cyber-security few enjoy in their own homes, let alone their cars.” It seems as if any car company that doesn’t have an AV on their roadmap needs to fire (sack) the marketing department.

Seriously, would replacing a full-time chauffeur with a level-4 luxury AV be worth it? Early-adoption can be frustrating as designers work out the real-world kinks. Every new toy has a finite honeymoon period. But if Lagonda owners find they need a chauffeur after all, there will be no shortage of volunteers.

Lynnette Reese is Editor-in-Chief, Embedded Intel Solutions and Embedded Systems Engineering, and has been working in various roles as an electrical engineer for over two decades.


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