They're going to have to change the name of this thing to NCC-1701, because piloting it will definitely make you feel like you're boldly going where no one's gone before. As part of the Michelin Design Challenge competition, Volvo has revised the design of the the traditional big-rig tractor. Serious thought was given to improving driver safety and some semi-radical changes to convention were made. The driver is front and center in the cab, just like F1 cars. The central seating position gives an expansive 180 degree field of vision; Volvo calls it the Full View Driver Position. There are blind spot cameras, as well as sensors to detect other vehicles, lane tracking, and driver alertness. The doors open by sliding, rather than flapping out into traffic, and a set of steps comes out from hiding, allowing ease of ingress. The seat motors back and rotates toward the opened door, making the driver feel like a transportation deity.
More after the jump.
We have pictures in our head of motoring along the US's vast expanses of highway, landscape fringing the arc of the windshield while we enjoy the driver-centric environment. Who doesn't love a big 'ol chair with buttons in the armrests (buttons! In the armrests!) that greets you like an excited puppy. If we had one of these things, we'd never want to leave, it's like the uber car geek's dream come true. The Bee-Van is set up so you don't have to leave very often. There are bunks and a dinette, not to mention plenty of storage. Much attention has been paid to keeping the driver comfortable and coddled, so he or she can perform at his or her best. Volvo's designers also applied their noggins to the greasy bits. Radiators are located at the base of the A-Pillars. Air from the high-pressure area at the base of the windshield is directed through the radiators and exits up by the roof. That keeps engine compartment temperatures lower, improving the engine's efficiency. Forget the little weekend speedster, with this thing you could haul around the whole racing team - the race car's cockpit may pale in comparison to the Bee-Van, though.