This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

November 28, 2018

Self-Driving Hotel Suite

When our author Joyce Gioia was asked to imagine tourism in 2050 for Les Entrêtiéns de Vixouze (the French Future of Tourism Conference), part of what she imagined was a vehicle to take a couple from Los Angeles to New York City overnight. The autonomous vehicle was equipped with bed and bathroom. Also, she used to call her RV (Recreational Vehicle) her "four-star hotel suite on wheels." Joyce was not surprised when she read about The Autonomous Travel Suite (ATS).

A real breakthrough and hybrid approach
Toronto-based Steve Lee of Aprilli Design Studio created The ATS and it could revolutionize the way we travel. Lee's creation won this year's Radical Innovation Award. Though Lee's submission was for a hospitality industry design competition, it is a hybrid concept, "combining his experience in hotel design and architecture with his passion for futuristic technology."

A different view of autonomous vehicles
Traditionally, although car designers have focused on developing autonomous vehicles, because of Lee's background as an architect, he sees self-driving vehicles as more like mobile rooms or perhaps what we in the US would call an RV (Recreational Vehicle).

Autonomous Travel Suites for overnight or long-distance trips
The ATS comes in a variety of sizes designed to accommodate solo travelers, couples, or even families and the family pet. The ATS will have a sleeping space (with a memory foam mattress), a work space, a tiny kitchen, a toilet, a sitting shower, and an "entertainment zone" for watching movies and gaming. The enclosure, panoramic smart glass windows, will dim at the touch of a button. The autonomous vehicles will be designed for journeys of six to ten hours,

Powered by electricity or hydrogen
Thinking about how best to power the ATS, Lee is speaking with automakers. Electric suites would require support from service vehicles to replace their batteries when they were running low. The other option being considered uses hydrogen-fuel cells; though that technology is less well-developed, it may offer the potential for a longer driving range.

When may travelers hope to try this mobile hotel experience?
Experts typically forecast that United States carmakers will be capable of producing fully self-driving vehicles by 2021. However, the infrastructure necessary to deploy them on public roads will take at least a decade longer.

Where will we see these hybrids first?
Like Lee, we expect to see this phenomenon first in East and West Coast cities, where the infrastructure will exist earlier than in other areas. Clusters of cities like New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston, and Washington DC and San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento which "fall into the six-to-ten-hour driving range," are the most likely candidates for early adoption.

Taking the hassle out of short trips
Let's face it, domestic air travel, these days is not fun. Between packing and unpacking, waiting in lines, being jammed into small coach seats, and lugging heavy suitcases through airports, getting there is no longer half the fun. ATS is a perfect mode of transport to replace domestic air travel.

Take heed of this possible breakthrough concept, if. . .
When it becomes a reality, this disruption will have a major impact on several types of marketers, including hoteliers, rail and airline executives, and residence-sharing professionals as well.


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