Ikea just became the latest company to announce it's tinkering with self-driving cars. But don't call Ikea the next Waymo or Tesla. The Swedish furniture giant is taking an entirely different approach.

Ikea says the self-driving cars of the future will serve a different purpose than cars do today. One day we may drink, sleep, work, and shop in autonomous vehicles. In fact, they're not cars at all.

The basic gist is this: Instead of traveling to go to the doctor, meet friends for coffee, pick up groceries, go shopping, or run other errands, all those services can come to you. In an Uber-like experience, you'd pull up an app and essentially hail what Ikea is calling a "space on wheels."

Ikea's Space 10 studio--an innovation lab that's re-imagined everything from Ikea meatballs to co-living spaces--announced the project last week. In collaboration with Foam Studio, they've unveiled seven space-on-wheels concepts that explore what our autonomous vehicle future could look like.

Office on wheels

This is a flexible workspace on wheels. Instead of wasting time commuting to work, you could work on the way to work. It's not so different than what Apple, Facebook, and Google already offer with their Wi-Fi shuttles.

Café on wheels

When your high-rent urban apartment is the size of a postage stamp (or you share one with a gazillion roommates just to afford the rent), having people over can be a challenge. This concept is a mobile café where people can meet to socialize.

Health care on wheels

Low-income communities often lack access to health care services because there are few clinics or doctors close by. Instead of people needing to travel long distances to receive these services, medical professionals could come to them.

Farm on wheels

The farm on wheels could bring fresh, locally grown produce to food deserts while helping local farmers expand their businesses.

Play on wheels

No, this isn't a traveling bouncy castle; it offers augmented reality and real-time content. Ikea's pitching this one as an educational experience.

Hotel on wheels

People could get some shuteye while traveling to their next destination. It's kind of like an extended train trip.

Shop on wheels

Though online shopping is on the rise, it doesn't let people physically see, touch, or try on products. So this concept is essentially a traveling showroom or pop-up shop.

Published on: Sep 26, 2018