ATNMBL - the concept car with no steering wheel, brake pedal or driver's seat


July 29, 2010

The Autonomobile concept passenger vehicle will take care of all the driving and navigation, leaving those onboard to just sit back and enjoy the ride

The Autonomobile concept passenger vehicle will take care of all the driving and navigation, leaving those onboard to just sit back and enjoy the ride

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A design studio based in San Francisco has produced a conceptual vision for an autonomous passenger vehicle for the year 2040. Able to comfortably seat seven people, the designers see the Autonomobile taking care of all that tedious driving from A to B while those onboard sit back on the curved sofa and watch a movie, play games or catch up with the news on a large touchscreen display. And if the mood calls for some refreshments, the vehicle can even take care of that too.

If autonomous passenger vehicles bring to mind the taxi from "Total Recall" with a ventriloquist-doll-like robotic driver at the front then you're obviously not on the same page as designers Mike Simonian and Maaike Evers. A person entering their Autonomobile (or ATNMBL for short) concept vehicle through a standing-height entryway will be greeted with a simple question: "Where can I take you?"

Passengers are not expected to share the burden of driving the solar-assisted electric vehicle, there is no steering wheel or brake pedal and definitely no driver's seat. Instead the ATNMBL will drive itself, leaving those onboard to just sit back and relax. There'll be wrap-around seating for up to seven people and a centrally-oriented flat screen display panel to offer trip details, entertainment such as movies or games, or business information. The touchscreen interface will feature Internet browsing capabilities, communication tools and can also rise up to reveal a mini-bar behind.

The designers see possible money-making potential for ATNMBL owners too, "On a typical morning commute, for instance, once your ATNMBL has taken you to work, it can continue taking other people within your social network to work, thus making you money, rather than sitting idly in a parking lot." Like other community transport proposals, it's also envisaged that numbers of vehicles on the same route will be able to group together to form commuter trains, with individual cars leaving the convoy for the last part of their journey.

One look at the design, which recently picked up a silver award at the 2010 International Design Excellence Awards, will tell you that this car will not be built with "Fast & Furious" speed junkies in mind. The designers say that the project dismisses "the need for extreme MPH and acceleration as irrelevant, ATNMBL proposes a new standard of performance: one of time-saving, quality of life, and increased exploration."

The ATNMBL is of course conceptual at the moment, it's being offered to "provoke thought and stir up new conversations about the car industry's next destination." Although, much of the technology needed to run it exists now – from the electric hub motor on each wheel to the electronically tinted windows to the various navigational gadgetry required to get it to its destination.

In fact, an Italian research project has recently started on an 8,000 mile driverless journey from Rome, Italy to Shanghai, China in order to prove that autonomous transport of goods by road is possible. So maybe it won't be too long before proposals like ATNMBL become a welcome reality.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

A very elegant concept. However, will there really be a need for seven passengers, as everyday driving commute is often a single passenger experience. But it sure suits a minivan or a bus application.

Interesting shape too!


Interesting concept but I\'ll never concede driving to a machine, computer unless on tracks or very special roads.

But what\'s more interesting is having such a vehicle as a home. Just add a shower/head and a place to cook by making it for 2 instead of more, and one can live well on little cost. And in the future many will have little choice.

With the roof covered in PV and a pop up when parked wind generator could supply needed power for both living and moving as EV drive is clearly the future.


I agree that the automobile is about to be reinvented and the combustion engine will become as \'dead as a dodo\' as electronics take over. I think the cars of the future will be powered by a combination of hydrogen fuel cells, batteries and supercapacitors. I have invented the name DAD [dedicated automatic driver]for the onboard computer system as I think if you were sending the kids off to school you would feel pretty safe with DAD at the controls, then you would be able to track and trace them from your ipod.

Mike H. founder HYDROGENHEADS.

Michael Halpin

Handy! One problem. It\'s bigger than current vehicles, what if we have a \"single-occupant\" problem with these?

Ike Rai

\"Able to comfortably seat seven people, taking care of all that tedious driving from A to B, while those onboard sit back, play games or catch up with the news\". Gee... Where have I seen this before? Oh, yea. It\'s called \'Public Transportation\'.


Any engineer would probably laugh at this design. From the horrible aerodynamics, unbalanced design, little or no suspension, no interior safety systems, etc.. This thing looks like it would last about 30 seconds on the interstate before it caught the wind wrong, spun out of control and crashed. With it\'s shape and design, you could practically guarantee nobody inside would survive. I wouldn\'t ride in a vehicle of this design unless it never went above 20-30 mph.

Don\'t count on seeing completely driverless cars for quite a while. It\'s not that building a car to do so is difficult. Practically every large engineering school creates cars for the DARPA challenges in this field. It\'s that the safety of completely relying on a computer to drive you isn\'t there yet. Maybe in ten years you\'ll see a car that could completely drive itself. Until then, if you like the idea of a commute like this try riding a bus or vouching for getting a light rail system in your area.

I wouldn\'t put to much stock into current hydrogen fuel cell claims. The problem doesn\'t lie with the concept of the fuel cell but the average energy density of hydrogen gas. To get any practical amount energy out of hydrogen gas stored in something around the size of modern gas tanks, it would need to be highly pressurized and/or supercooled. The other problem with hydrogen is that it causes embrittlement to an sort of material it stored in. The hydrogen molecule work their way into the material and cause it to become very brittle and fragile over time. Super-capacitors in theory would be the best solution probably, but we haven\'t seen anything remotely good enough to be practical except for some unfounded, lofty claims made by sketchy start-up companies. Batteries will be what we will probably rely on for quite a while.

Adam Carter
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