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Ford Patents Reconfigurable Seats for Autonomous Vehicles

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 8/22/2015 Megan Stewart

Several automakers are gearing up to launch autonomous vehicles in the coming years, and Ford is taking steps to ensure the driverless experience is comfortable. The American automaker has patented reconfigurable seats for use in autonomous vehicle.

Research

While the vehicle is operating, the seats can swivel and fold, while the steering wheel can retract to provide more interior space. With the living room setup, the front seats rotate 180 degrees to face the back row. Passengers can also fold the front seats to use them as a foot rest. MotorTrend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTrend Image

Ford isn't the first automaker to come out with rotating seats. Last year, Tesla and Rinspeed showed off their XchangE concept, which is based off the Model S and features front seats that rotate 180 degrees. Rinspeed also partnered with BMW to create an i3-inspired Budii, which features a steering wheel that can be folded out of the way, like with the Ford concept, or turned into a table during autonomous driving.

However, just because Ford patented the rotating seats, doesn't mean we'll see this technology in future vehicles anytime soon. According to an email from Ford spokesman Said Deep, "We submit patents on the innovative ideas as a normal course of business. Patent submissions help protect our new idea but do not necessarily indicate future business or product plans." But with many automakers coming out with advanced autonomous features in the near future, Ford is likely stepping up its development to stay in the autonomous game.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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