Rolls Royce unveils its new vision for a completely autonomous car

Rolls Royce unveils its new vision for a completely autonomous car
Rolls Royce set out to "define the future of luxury mobility" last week (June 16) as it unveiled its fully autonomous-concept the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 at the BMW Group Future exhibition.

The event took place at London's Roundhouse in Camden, on the occasion of the BMW Group's 100th anniversary, to outline the company's vision for the next 100 years (Rolls Royce became an owned subsidiary of BMW in 1998).

One of the most exciting concepts to come out of the event was Rolls Royce's VISION NEXT 100, code-named 103EX, a car that Rolls Royce has claimed "defines the future of luxury mobility and is the marque’s first ever pure ‘Vision Vehicle’".

A spokesman for Rolls-Royce said: "The VISION NEXT 100 presents an intriguing and aesthetically dynamic vision of the future of luxury mobility  – a completely personal, effortless and autonomous Rolls-Royce experience".  

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The car has been designed to "​anticipate the mobility demands of the luxury customer of the future" and the project was brought to life by Rolls-Royce after many months of study and consultation with current patrons of the brand.

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In creating the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100, the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars design team, led by Director of Design Giles Taylor, asked themselves the question, “How can we recast luxury for the next 100 years?”

Within that question the team found that they had to address two further questions: “What will a Rolls-Royce owner expect of his or her Rolls-Royce in the coming decades?” and “How do we at Rolls-Royce today envision how we meet those expectations?”.

These questions allowed the team to dream of the staggering possibilities for Rolls-Royce’s future.

In typical Rolls Royce fashion the brand describes the car with as much opulance as it intends to build it with, we have tried to translate the language as best we can.

Key features

The Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 is the vision of the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars design team, led by Director of Design Giles Taylor, here Taylor offers his insight into the car's key features.

The effortless journey (how it works)

In order to be 'digitally connected to every aspect of owners lives' Rolls Royce has created Eleanor - the car's very own artificial intelligence (AI) that acts as a virtual assistant and chauffeur - and boy does Rolls expect her to be a hard-working gal.

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Eleanor will make the car fully autonomous, Taylor said: "She works intuitively to advise her owners on itineraries, schedules and options before they leave their residence, reminding about appointments and tasks and making suggestions to ease any anticipated impediments. (Sounds a bit bossy to us).

"She ‘brings’ the car around when her passengers are ready to travel and, whilst conveying her charges to their next destination, helpfully but discreetly makes suggestions and recommendations, briefing them ahead of their arrival. Ever vigilant, ‘Eleanor’ safely delivers her passengers to their destination, having already predicted the situation and surroundings that await them.

"This Effortless Journey is enhanced by the hallmark Rolls-Royce ‘magic carpet ride’ (you could say it's a whole new world) delivered through a blend of a futuristic, powerful, zero-emission drivetrain and advanced suspension that sees the vehicle almost skim across the road surface. As a V12 combustion engine is most unlikely to exist in the future, one can only surmise how this Rolls-Royce will be powered." 

The grand sanctuary (the interior)

Taylor said: "Entering the Grand Sanctuary, our passengers step in unbowed, with consummate grace and dignity, as with the state carriages of old. Cocooned in the futuristic but handcrafted lounge atmosphere, the coach door and clamshell canopy glide closed to envelop them in uninterrupted silence and luxury.

"The centrepiece of the cabin is the beautiful sofa. The best seat in the house, it is an exquisite, futuristic interpretation of modern furniture design. Clothed in the most opulent fabrics, it gives the impression of floating within the cocoon of the cabin thanks to the artful use of lighting and modern materials. (Not much room to give your mates a lift, at least you won't need ot argue about who's driving with trusty Eleanor in control).

"A final sensual touchpoint within the cabin is the finest one-off deep-pile ivory wool carpet woven especially in London, which our passengers can enjoy as they luxuriate in the ample space created by the removal of the chauffeur. 

"This sense of space is accentuated as our passengers’ view from their seats is uninterrupted by a cockpit or steering wheel which are now superfluous. 

"Should they choose to drop their eyes from that world stage (Kensington High Street , most likely) for a moment and ask ‘Eleanor’ for visual cues, she will provide them on the transparent OLED screen that dominates the front wall of the cabin. 

"Here our passengers can view information regarding their journey, their destination and the people they are expecting to meet. Or they may simply choose to retreat from the outside world and be entertained by their favourite show for a while."

The grand arrival (the exterior)

Referred to as the 'grand arrival' because its "iconic, imposing and futuristic presence will ensure a grand arrival for its occupants".

Taylor said: "The very size of the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 announces the importance of its precious cargo. At 5.9 metres long and 1.6 metres high, it mirrors the perfect dimensions of today’s Phantom Extended Wheelbase. 

"This dividing line accentuates the car’s two-tone design scheme. The upper section is made entirely of dark glass. It flows fluidly as a daring fastback, creating a glass canopy over the occupants.

"The design team were freed from their current constraints by the new propulsion and coach-build technologies now available to them so where an engine would once have occupied the entire under-bonnet area of the car, a luggage compartment is positioned just aft of the front wheels.

"The luggage compartment opens automatically following arrival and disembarkation, presenting two grand tourer cases. In the case of the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100, the cases are fittingly personalised to CS Rolls and FH Royce. (hopefully these are customisable).

"Constructed from light yet incredibly strong materials, the hull ‘floats’ above the road surface as it is suspended from the vehicle’s wheels via exposed arms and struts.

"The 28-inch tall but narrow wheels upon which the car glides are each hand-built from 65 individual pieces of aluminium, and enclosed to deliver the impression of a futuristic catamaran."

Rolls-Royce and the art of the Grand Arrival (How to exit the car)

"Hinged on the left of the vehicle, the glass canopy lifts to allow the occupant to stand whilst providing shelter from above and behind.

"Then, in one effortless movement, the single coach door sweeps open and a step emerges from below the running board. As a final flourish, a red light is projected, carpet-like, from the underside of the step as a welcome." (Well that is a nice touch).

In short...

Whether the car ever comes to fruition is a seperate issue, the fact remains is it is an incredibly bold and exciting concept, one that shows us car makers can still dream - giving hope to the rest of us while keeping our child-like wonder tantalised in an age of semeingly endless possibility. We're happy to be lost in Rolls Royce's dream for as long as they'll have us.