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Uber exciting: The future is self-drive hotels

A Toronto design studio has unveiled the future of accommodation – and it’s on wheels.

The Autonomous Travel Suite by Aprilli accommodates up to five people and contains beds, washroom facilities, a space for working or entertaining, and even a small kitchen.

The driverless mobile hotel suite won this year’s Radical Innovation Award, a The John Hardy Group competition through which designers, architects and entrepreneurs submit innovative hotel industry concepts.

“It’s basically a hotel room so it has everything inside it,” said designer Steve Lee of the Autonomous Travel Suite.

“Whether it’s six hours or ten hours, you’ll feel comfortable inside it.”

Lee predicts the battery-powered self-drive could be on the road by 2030, replacing domestic flights or train travel and offering travellers a door-to-door service.

Lee says the suite would operate as a rental car and a hotel room, providing more flexibility, privacy and comfort while also cutting the costs involved in combined travel services.

It would allow travellers to work uninterrupted on the road, skipping current necessities like rest stops and food and toilet breaks.

Travellers would order the Autonomous Travel Suite through an online app, specifying the destinations and desired services to allow the interface to analyse the best travel routes. 

For longer trips, Lee envisions developing an Autonomous Hotel Chain, a network of ‘parent’ facilities into which individual travel suites could dock to create integrated units. The parent hotels would offer amenities such as fitness centres, spas, pools, and meeting rooms.

In the meantime, he says, existing hotels could “update their facilities to fit the needs of autonomous vehicles”.

While practical limitations such as the finite battery life of autonomous vehicles, and the amount of time people can realistically travel in such a limited space, have led to scepticism about the proposal, it is not as futuristic it may appear.

 Renault, for example, is currently creating self-driving luxury lounges for business people, and Volvo’s 360C autonomous concept car functions as a bedroom, living space and work office.

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