Designing an autonomous car ready for 2021
06 March 2018
Aston Martin’s Lagonda Vision Concept marks the beginning of a new range of state of the art, emission-free luxury vehicles. Production is planned to start in 2021.
Lagonda aims to be the world’s first zero emission luxury brand. It will take full advantage of the latest advances in electrification and autonomous driving technologies. The Lagonda ‘Vision Concept’ is a near future study that previews the design language that could potentially be seen in production Lagonda models as soon as 2021.
The Lagonda Vision Concept doesn’t have a bonnet because one is not required. But it still needs to travel through the air and to do so as efficiently as possible to preserve battery life, which is why its shape is so sleek and dynamic. “The shape of the Lagonda Vision Concept is the result of satisfying a number of different requirements,” says Aston Martin EVP and Chief Creative Officer, Marek Reichman. “The need to make a bold design statement, to establish Lagonda as a company of the future and to show how technological advancement can help liberate design too. So while Aston Martin design language can be seen as organic and natural, that of Lagonda is more sculptural, shocking and challenging. It is a shape formed by the collision of invisible forces, like those made by magnetic particles in an electrical current. The secret is to understand how to connect that shock and change to beautiful surfacing.”
Its design also means a new level of convenience and ease of use can be delivered. Because the majority of the car’s structural strength comes through its floor, it has been possible to use apertures in the body far larger than would be wise in conventional cars. As a result, the rear hinged back doors don’t just open outwards, the roof sections also open upwards to provide ease of access. Occupants can therefore literally stand up inside and walk out of the car, or step straight into it. Similarly, the front seats are not mounted on conventional runners which always interfere with where those in the back would like to place their feet, but instead sit on cantilevered arms extending from the floor outside the seat frame providing a completely uncluttered floor area. And the seats are more like armchairs, with heavily bolstered arms because, given the choice people always use arms to lower and raise themselves from chairs.
The Lagonda Vision Concept also anticipates a world with a high level of autonomy. Its design is commensurate with level four autonomous driving, meaning the car is capable of driving itself in all routine circumstances and on all recognisable roads. As a result, the steering wheel can not only move from left to right hand drive according to need, in autonomous mode it can also retract entirely allowing front seat passengers to rotate through 180° to engage in face to face conversation with those in the back. In the meantime, the car will not only have 360° awareness of the world around it, but also be fully connected to it, allowing occupants unprecedented access to bespoke concierge services and a level of connectivity and cyber-security few enjoy in their own homes, let along their cars.
The Lagonda Vision Concept has been configured to accept powerful solid state electric batteries enabling it to cover up to 400 real world miles between charges. That’s the distance from Los Angeles to San Francisco, London to Edinburgh or Berlin to Vienna without stopping. The concept has also has been designed to be compatible with the latest wireless conductive charging technology.
The car itself makes full use of Aston Martin’s experience in multi-material bonding techniques, creating a structure that is light for an all-electric luxury car, structurally stiff and space efficient. It will also make the most of its electric drive system to provide intelligent all-wheel drive, capable of delivering anything from 100 to zero percent of available torque to any given wheel according to demand.