Ford Envisions Mobile Movie Theatre for Driverless cars
Ford Motor Company envisions its autonomous vehicles as mobile movie theaters, with screens and projectors that vanish into the ceiling as passengers take over the wheel, according to a patent issued last week.
The patent, for an “Autonomous Vehicle Entertainment System,” is less interesting for what it describes—a widely anticipated entertainment system for drivers who no longer need to focus on the road—than for what it anticipates: driverless cars that still need drivers.
Other technology leaders, like Google, anticipate driverless cars that do not need human intervention at all—since they drive so much better than humans do. The difference suggests Ford may be headed down what one mobility expert calls “a dead end.”
The patent depicts the first display as a projection screen in the front of the car, covering the windshield (pictured below). When the driver takes over, the screen and projector retract into the ceiling and the presentation shifts to a display integrated within “a dashboard, an instrument cluster, or a rearview mirror.”
In January, Ford Chief Technology Officer Raj Nair said Ford is striving to develop vehicles that will be fully autonomous, “but only in defined conditions, such as highway driving or in smart cities.” Outside of those conditions, Ford cars would simply offer driver assistance technologies, such as lane correction, hazard warnings and autonomous parallel parking.