The future of transportation is electric. And, it will also be autonomous. While we may be at the beginning stages of this twinned transformation, Cadillac is already deeply exploring how it can shape this battery-powered, steering-wheel-free inevitability.
At CES 2022 this past January, the luxury brand of General Motors debuted its InnerSpace Autonomous Concept: a driverless halo vehicle of generous proportions. Extra long, low, and wide, this boat tailed two-seater is the third in a series of vehicles that repose under the Cadillac Halo Concept Portfolio umbrella.
Like the preceding two Halo Concepts – PersonalSpace, a single-seat VTOL aircraft and a sumptuous-but-boxy people mover named SocialSpace, reminiscent of a decadent Cruise Origin – InnerSpace launched “digitally,” as a pandemic health precaution.
With the waning of Covid-19 caseloads, we were invited to the GM Design Dome on the campus of the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan to finally check it out in person and chat with a handful of designers that helped craft the experience the Innerspace might provide in a not-so-far-off future. The automaker picked up the tab for airfare.
Walking into the sanctum of the Design Dome, tones were hushed. The soft lighting sublimely illuminated a trinity of autonomous vehicles, each engineered for a specific use case. Posed in the center, InnerSpace was clearly the star.
Gallery: Cadillac Halo Concept Portfolio in person
Even placed next to the most fanciful flight of actual flying fancy one might imagine – PersonalSpace – the black coupé (a design this delicious demands l’accent aigu) has a presence that forces your eye to it. Its clean lines swoop with refined drama from tip to tail, light subtly tracing the arc of its roofline from the A-pillar to practically the end of its decklid. It’s a sporty, yet sophisticated, sci-fi ride.
If you happen to be the fortunate soul in possession of a subscription to the car, or its outright owner, the theater really begins as you approach it and are verified by a two-step authentication process involving an artfully stylized QR code appearing on the door below the rear view camera. The glass roof begins to lift, tilting forward, then a long door opens, the seats uncleave themselves and pivot toward you while an undulating digital soundtrack underscores the ceremony.
Though low to the ground, entry is easy with not only the roof out of the way, but the door sill notched out as well. Once settled in, the ballet of moving parts repeats itself in reverse. This is when your AI-refined profile, leveraging the Ultifi software platform, turns on the magic.
Gallery: Cadillac InnerSpace Autonomous Concept
Depending on the time of day, your destination, or any of a number of other factors, InnerSpace may defuse an AI-intuited scent crafted from organic essential oils to fit the moment. Healing vibrational sound therapy might embrace you and meet your emotional needs. The huge curved display that dominates the front of the interior, wrapping around your field of vision and even extending into the lower portions of the doors, may light up with media, like movies or games or, if you’re feeling old-school or happen to be traveling a road with worthy vistas, a real-time forward view of the road and landscape ahead.
What you won’t experience is the mundanity of gripping a steering wheel or pushing an accelerator to pilot a path through a sea of distracted drivers. As with all the I-Space vehicles in the portfolio, there are no wheels or pedals in this machine. Destinations and any other instructions for your invisible chauffeur or all vocalized, gestured, or perhaps inputted into an app. You need only enjoy the ride.
If you find this sort of bougie bespoke travel intriguing, bad news: InnerSpace won’t be coming to a showroom near you anytime soon. Probably never, in fact. It’s the halo car of this crop of Halo Concepts. The North Star for a brand in search of a future direction it believes is positioned above the luxury level of today’s Cadillac.
A number of elements involved in the Innerspace Concept may arrive, we were told, by 2030. But with that timeline still a bit of a journey, we wondered what this collection of concepts is supposed to communicate to today’s customers. So, we asked.
Creative Design Manager, Interior, Joe Baker graciously answered,
“I think it’s that there’s basically a sea change on the horizon. When level five (fully automated driving) comes onstream, the opportunities it presents people… I think it will radically change their quality of life.”
If you’re not yet necessarily sold on the idyllic promise of driverless driving, but would like to park a super-luxurious, battery-powered machine bearing the Cadillac crest in your driveway sometime within the next few years, the Celestiq may be your soonest best bet. While it might still need to be operated manually, at least in some situations, it will have feature the brand’s signature horizontal lighting elements on the outside and that full-width-of-the-vehicle screen on the inside. That future world can’t come soon enough.
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