Lonely Planet Writer

Self-driving hotel suites could dramatically change the way we travel

Imagine a mini hotel room on wheels that could pick you up straight after work and drive you to your destination. The Autonomous Travel Suite is a self-driving hotel suite that offers a door-to-door transportation service. You could be picked up from your home or office in a solar-powered electric vehicle that would whisk you away in a mobile hotel suite, allowing you to sleep, freshen up or work on the road.

Autonomous Travel Suite is the winner of the 2018 Radical Innovation Award. Image by Autonomous Travel Suite

A winner of the 2018 Radical Innovation Award, the Autonomous Travel Suite (ATS) was designed by Steve Lee of Aprilli design studio. For now, it’s just a concept but Lee has big ideas with his aim to make travel more efficient. In a compact hotel room environment, the ATS is equipped with all the features you’d expect from a regular hotel room, including the basic sleeping, working and washroom facilities, as well as a mini bar, kitchen, storage for luggage and an entertainment zone with movies and games.

The ATS reimagines the way users commute and travel. Image by Autonomous Travel Suite

For travellers short on time such as business travellers, the ATS will enable them to use their travel time more efficiently – getting work done on the way to a meeting or hotel or showering and smartening up before a conference or party. The ATS  is designed for travel journeys between six and 10 hours and comes in different sizes depending on how, or how many, is travelling such as solo travellers, families or couples.

The suite is equipped with the basic sleeping, working, and washroom facilities. Image by Autonomous Travel Suite

The car is encased by panoramic smart glass windows that can dim for privacy. Customised equipment like a TV or extra bed could be available upon request. To make things even more convenient, the ATS will be controlled by an app, allowing travellers to select the start and end points of their route and to add in stop-offs such as restaurants or gyms. Eventually, Lee believes that they will “dock” or “plug in” at a company that operates “Autonomous Hotels.”

The travel suites will be operated by the Autonomous Hotel Chain. Image by Autonomous Travel Suite

The hotels would be designed to park the ATS, where once it arrives, it would dock and open to more upscale, integrated hotel unit. Once there, travellers can enjoy all of the advantages of a regular hotel such as a pool, restaurant, fitness facility and meeting rooms. The Autonomous Hotel also has service vehicles that can be dispatched to nearby ATS, providing fresh batteries or room service.

Travellers can use any nearby Autonomous Hotel facilities. Image by Autonomous Travel Suite

Lee believes that the Autonomous Travel Suite would be cheaper than regular travel and accommodation costs because it combines the price for transportation and accommodation. If more than one person is travelling, the overall travel cost becomes even more competitive. It also offers greater storage space and eliminates security or domestic flight delays.

Travellers can dock their ATS once they arrive at the Autonomous Hotel. Image by Autonomous Travel Suite

It sounds pretty exciting; a personal rental car that doubles as a hotel room which can then, eventually, be plugged into a bigger, parent hotel. It’s early days yet but if the ATS evolves beyond its concept phase, it could revolutionise the way we travel. Visit Aprilli to find out more.