Mini Reveals its own Urbanite Driverless Lounge

Mini is the latest automaker to off the rolling lounge concept as its vision of what a driverless future could look like.

Following in the tire tracks of the likes of Volkswagen, Renault, Infiniti and Suzuki among others, the BMW-owned compact brand has presented it Mini Vision Urbanaut. As with the others, it’s still essentially a living room styled box on wheels.

Its designers, we are told, started from the inside and worked outwards using using floor plans, pieces of furniture plus wooden scale models. Augmented reality then produced resulting in a Mini van-like tall in comparison to existing brand vehicles but still within a limited 14.6-feet length for city use.

Occupants enter the cabin through a large sliding door in the side of the car. There are no other doors on the driver’s side or front passenger side. A flexible four-seat layout sees the two front seats able to rotate, while the backrests folding manually (left rear seat) and turned around (right rear seat). When the car is stationary, the dashboard lowers and the driver’s area becomes a comfortable seating corner – the “daybed”.

The windscreen can be opened upwards when stationary to create a ‘Street Balcony’. The darker reaches of the cabin’s rear section provide the ‘Cosy Corner’. Between this and the driver’s area is the open and airy central section of the car, which offers quick access to all seating areas. With the door open, it is even possible to sit on the floor. On the side of the car opposite the entry door, a small integrated table which is imagined as the place where passengers meet, face and engage with one another.

Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design, said: “The MINI brand has always stood for ‘Clever Use of Space’. In the Mini Vision Urbanaut, we extend private space far into the public realm, creating completely new and enriching experiences.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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