Conceptual visions such as trailhead-shuttling Jeep Wranglers and concierge-grade RV pods have previously explored how autonomous driving technology can introduce travelers, campers and outdoor adventurers to a new level of pampering.
Chinese automaker GAC’s Advanced Design Studio Milan has picked up where those others left off, imagining a wildly capable autonomous RV called Vanlife. The fully autonomous vision is designed to drive over all types of earthen terrain, whisking passengers to the outdoorsy or urban adventure of their dreams … dreams they’ll enjoy while sleeping soundly atop an onboard hammock.
The Vanlife design study is the second car in GAC’s “Car Culture” series, following the low-riding Barchetta revealed last year. This time around, the design team has turned its attention to a style of auto culture that dates back generations and has been particularly topical of late: camper van travel.
The Vanlife concept explores the direction RV design might take in a more technologically advanced future.
GAC Advanced Design imagines the Vanlife being used not only for finite vacations and slow, full-time #vanlife meanders but also for the type of focused, long-distance journeys that travelers currently leave to aircraft, destination-oriented trips of 2,000 km (1,240 miles) or more. It leverages full Level 5 autonomy to make such trips as relaxing and stress-free as kicking back in first class ahead of being picked up at the airport in a private car. A solid-state battery pack adds next-generation long-range, fast-charging capabilities, and the van body has been kept compact and streamlined enough for efficient battery usage.
The Vanlife doesn’t just offer full autonomy on select highways, but on any road … or non-road. The car’s autonomous navigation system compounds the usual GPS and mapping data with input from a separate sidereal position-mapping system, providing reliable self-driving even in remote off-road environments. The Vanlife rides on wheels with a future iteration of airless all-terrain tire design, featuring a tread system meant to maintain traction across the spectrum of on- and off-road ground types: pavement, sand, snow, rock and more.
With the Vanlife handling all driving and navigation, occupants are free to enjoy the ride, taking in views through the large windows and glass roof, sleeping on the in-vehicle hammock or losing themselves in whatever style of personal device is en vogue in Century X. They’re surrounded by an odd, fanciful “Orbital frame” that takes the place of a typical ladder frame or unibody construction.
The frame wraps around the vehicle midsection like a belt, and interior and exterior automotive components attach above and below to combine into the full vehicle. Occupants can also use it to attach and swap all forms of modular components – smart devices, speakers, lighting, tabletops, storage bags, and more – personalizing the interior to their liking at any given moment.
That Orbital frame sounds like a good way for the car’s every body panel to fall off like a cartoon gag, but it’s certainly a fun, creative idea for a design study. Outside, the frame supports a retractable platform system that looks like GAC Advanced Design’s take on a slide-out kitchen. It doesn’t have any built-in equipment but offers plenty of dual-worktop space to cook, prepare meals, repair sports equipment, etc.
GAC revealed the Vanlife at Milan Design Week this month. It’s obviously not headed for production, but it is an interesting thought exercise in how advancing automotive technologies might enhance the RVing experience.
Source: GAC Motor