More people are flying than ever before. The Transportation Security Administration reports that a record 771.5 million travelers passed through US airports in 2017, an increase of 5% from 2016. This pattern is also reflected globally: 2017 saw nearly nine billion airline passengers worldwide, a 7% increase from 2016.

With so many airline passengers, airports and planes are becoming uncomfortably overcrowded. In response, a host of new concepts are imagining alternatives to air travel in the hopes of eliminating its pain points and the disruption of daily life. From mobile hotel rooms to community centers on wheels, these futuristic travel concepts are latching on to the potential of the much-hyped self-driving car. They propose merging transportation and hospitality for a more seamless and comfortable travel experience, hoping to recreate the privacy and comfort of home for people on the go.

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Autonomous Travel Suite by Aprilli Design Studio
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Aprilli Design Studio wants to bring the hotel to your front door with its Autonomous Travel Suite. The concept proposes a driverless vehicle that can double as a hotel room, equipped with a bed, bathroom and mini-kitchen, to take guests from house to hotel in comfort. Upon arrival at the hotel, the pod would lock into the larger “Parent Suite” to become an extension of the hotel room. “Acting as both a personal rental car and hotel room, the Autonomous Travel Suite provides both a new way of traveling and an extension of the conventional hotel experience,” the designers explain.

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Volvo 360c self-driving concept car
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Volvo’s self-driving concept car similarly proposes a blurring of work, leisure and travel. The designs include a single passenger option with a fold-out bed or multi-passenger options with seating arranged around a desk or table for working or socializing. “Domestic air travel sounds great when you buy your ticket, but it really isn’t. The 360c represents what could be a whole new take on the industry,” says Mårten Levenstam, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Volvo. “It could enable us to compete with the world’s leading aircraft makers.”

Ikea is taking this idea one step further with mobile community centers. Space10, Ikea’s innovation lab, has designed several concepts in conjunction with Foam Studio for more enjoyable and efficient travel. The seven Spaces on Wheels vehicles include a mobile hotel, office, entertainment unit, cafe, healthcare space, farm and pop-up shop. Similar to ridesharing, passengers would request pickup and drop-off locations—for a check-up during your morning commute, for example.

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SPACE10 Spaces on Wheels concept
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“The day fully autonomous vehicles hit our streets is the day cars are not cars anymore. They can be anything,” Space10’s cofounder Simon Caspersen told Dezeen. “The primary function of transportation disappears to give rise to other functions. It could be an extension of our homes or our offices or our local café, so we want to trigger a broader conversation on what we would like it to be.”

There’s undoubtedly still a long way to go before these designs become a reality, but the possibility would revolutionize the travel and hospitality industries. “We are on the verge of what could be the most significant period of change in the automobile industry,” according to Space10 cofounder Kaave Pour. “One day, in the not so distant future, fully autonomous vehicles could be a common occurrence on our everyday streets. This would not only redefine how people and goods move around our cities, but also redefine the very fabric of our daily lives.”

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