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Self-driving hotel rooms could be the best way to travel yet

You’ve heard of self-driving cars, but have you heard of self-driving hotel suites?

Steve Lee of Aprilli Design Studio in Los Angeles has come up with a concept that could revolutionise the way we travel. Get this: instead of taking a car, a train, or a plane to get to your hotel, the hotel comes to you – or rather, drives to you.

The design, called Autonomous Travel Suite, features self-driving, electric-powered hotel rooms, which will pick you up at your house and shuttle you to your destination, eliminating hassles like flight delays and lost luggage.

If you’re not into sleeping in cars, these mobile rooms might change your mind, as each unit comes with memory foam mattresses, a bathroom, a kitchen and mini-bar, and an area for work or entertainment. The rooms will also be available in various sizes to accommodate everyone from single occupants to families with pets.

As for privacy, the windows are made from smart glass, which can be dimmed at a press of a button.

Aprilli Design Studio

Here’s where it gets even more ridiculous. Once you’re at your destination, the Autonomous Travel Suite morphs – yes, like a giant Japanese robot – with an Autonomous Hotel facility. The car enters a dock and locks with another room, resulting in a larger parent suite which connects to amenities like restaurants, gyms, and spas.

The more units that check-in, the bigger the Autonomous Hotel becomes. I told you, just like a giant Japanese robot.

But don’t get too excited just yet. While the technology for autonomous vehicles is growing by leaps and bounds, the concept still needs to be fleshed out. For instance, the rooms recharge when docked inside an Autonomous Hotel, but it’s unknown how long the batteries will last or what happens if there are no charging stations nearby.

Still, it’s a pretty creative way of redefining the way we travel.

The Autonomous Travel Suite was named as one of three finalists in this year’s Radical Innovation Awards. The winner of the competition will be announced on October 3.

Aprilli Design Studio

We recently spoke to Steve Lee to know more about his innovative idea.

What inspired you to come up with the concept for the Autonomous Travel Suite?

“As an architect, I have been interested in how autonomous driving technology could possibly transform vehicles into more habitable and occupiable spaces.

“The recent technological developments are enabling vehicles to become more intelligent and autonomous in a way travelers can use their travel time and space more efficiently. The vehicles are becoming more spatial with specific needs and I have seen this as an opportunity to bring architectural design concepts into transportation.

“Especially for the hospitality industry, these new moving spaces would be excellent opportunities for mobile hotels which could be strong alternatives to long-distance transportation systems such as airplanes or trains.”

What reaction has your work generated?

“The Autonomous Travel Suite brings focus on realistic future issues related to hospitality. The project has not been exposed too much yet since it is still in a competition phase, but I think it will bring in some attention to the hospitality industry.

“Since the impact should be huge within the next 20-30 years’ time frame, I would imagine many of the large businesses in hospitality and transportation industry would start to seriously look into these mobile transportation systems.”

Aprilli Design Studio

How far off into the future do you think until we could possibly see these driverless mobile hotel rooms in action?

“As soon as Autonomous Driving Technology becomes realized, the Autonomous Travel Suite can be immediately in action. It is more about how quickly can the hospitality industry adapt to the new system.

“In case we estimate the technology to be actualized within 10 years, we have a 10-year window to develop a new system that can integrate autonomous vehicles and hotel industry. Considering the fact that most development projects take 3-5 years to be built and how they normally use financial projections for the next 20-30 years, it could be said that this is a very imminent issue.

“I think the hospitality industry should immediately start looking into these future technologies and start developing a new system that can accommodate the changes.”

What type of impact would you like this concept to have on how see/approach transportation and accommodation?

“This new form of ‘Transpitality’, which means transportation plus hospitality, would require more creative platforms and systems which could respond instantly to changing trends and traveler’s needs in the future.

“As like how smartphone apps have been evolving to create new forms of services for customers, autonomous travel suite can be a platform where new forms of hospitality services and businesses could spring and evolve.

“Having a customized vehicle and space accompanying you throughout the entire journey is a totally new concept for both hospitality and transportation and I think it will have a huge impact on both industries in the near future.”

You can see more of Aprilli Design Studio’s work on their website.

Via Curbed