Self-driving cars are an inevitability and will unlock the potential for cars to transform beyond a simple means of transport.

In the not too distant future, drivers will find themselves with a great deal of free time in-car. Rather than having to focus on driving, time can be spent on working, being entertained, or simply relaxing.

In the near future, driving yourself will be about as popular as riding horses for transportation, according to Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk.

Audi calls this newly recoverable time “The 25th Hour” and recently revealed that it was working on a new type of media to fill the time. Exclusively speaking to Roadshow, Audi confirmed that it’s partnering with The Walt Disney Company and will be revealing the technology they’ve created, alongside their plans to bring it to market, at the CES trade show in January 2019.

According to Audi, today’s drivers spend about 50 minutes per day at the wheel. In the “25th Hour” project, Audi is investigating how self-driving cars will change our everyday life.AUDI

Whilst the technology has not yet been seen, Roadshow’s Chris Paukert speculates that it will be “some sort of interactive rear-seat multimedia experience, potentially involving augmented reality technology that involves not just what’s inside a vehicle’s cabin, but also the world outside, too.”

Audi is not the only automotive brand looking to seize the opportunity self-driving cars offer and further differentiate themselves from the competition. Back in 2016, Volvo, Ericsson, and Netflix announced plans for in-car entertainment for their driverless cars – technology which allowed users to stream video on the go, even without signal. Volvo’s Concept 26 model, unveiled at the LA Auto Show, featured a huge retractable screen built into the dashboard that swiveled into place.

Volvo’s Concept 26 interior has a layout that emphasizes relaxation and the enjoyment of entertainment.VOLVO

In 2017 at CES, Honda demonstrated a proof of concept version of its Honda Dream Drive in-car virtual reality prototype featuring content from DreamWorks’ animated movie Trolls. Passengers were immersed in a virtual reality world triggered by the motion of the vehicle.

The partnership with DreamWorks enabled Honda to enhance the in-vehicle experience through new ways of delivering entertainment and information.HONDA

Immersive technology offers a huge opportunity to turn the car into a new kind of stage. In light of this, REWIND has been working on an R&D project to transform the back-of-car experience using AR. The team had to ensure hardware engineered to work on static ground worked in a moving vehicle. With some clever software tricks to get around relying on the phone’s positional technology (IMU), a reliable method for keeping AR entertainment fixed inside a moving car was achieved and tested with a platform.

Over the past few years, we have seen a great deal of R&D from forward-thinking companies that see the potential of self-driving cars. But, for consumers, the day-to-day reality of being driven to work by your own car, is still a few years away. In a report launched last month, Futuresource Consulting stated that the first level 4 car, featuring a high, but not a complete level of autonomy, is expected in 2020.

The likes of Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, and Tesla are all developing autonomous car technology. ERICSSON

While we wait for fully autonomous vehicles to become a mainstream commercial product, there is no denying that a media revolution is on its way. Self-driving vehicles are a new medium for creatives to work with and present a real revenue opportunity for a wide range of companies. When drivers can fully divert their attention from the road, suddenly windscreens can be turned into projector screens, in-car gaming console docks are an inevitability, and video streaming will take over from the radio.

The actualization of a ‘moving living room’ will change the way we consume entertainment on the go.

Via Forbes