February 21, 2024


Concept visions such as trailhead Jeep Wranglers and concierge-grade RV pods have previously explored how self-driving technology could introduce travelers, campers and outdoor adventurers to a whole new level of pampering.

Milan, the advanced design studio of Chinese automaker GAC, has picked up where others have left off, envisioning a capable self-driving touring car called Vanlife. The fully autonomous Horizon is designed to navigate all types of dirt terrain, taking passengers to the outdoor or urban adventures of their dreams… while they sleep peacefully in their onboard hammocks.

The Vanlife Design Study is the second car in GAC’s “Car Culture” series, following the low-riding Barchetta released last year. This time around, the design team turned its attention to a style of car culture that dates back generations and has been particularly popular recently: campervan travel.

The Vanlife concept explores the directions RV design might take in a more technologically advanced future.

Decentralized electric powertrain helps reduce overhang to virtually nonexistent, creating a spacious interior for road and camp life
Decentralized electric powertrain helps reduce overhang to virtually nonexistent, creating a spacious interior for road and camp life

GAC Advanced Design Milan

GAC Advanced Design envisions Vanlife not just for limited vacations and slow full-time jobs #vanlife Serpentine, but also suitable for the type of dedicated long-distance travel that travelers currently leave to planes, namely destination-directed trips of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) or more. It utilizes full Level 5 autonomy to make travel like this as easy and stress-free as returning to first class before being picked up at the airport in a private car. A solid-state battery pack adds next-generation long-range, fast-charging capabilities, and the van’s body remains compact and streamlined for efficient battery usage.

Vanlife offers full autonomy not just on selected highways, but on any road…or off-road. The car’s autonomous navigation system combines commonly used GPS and map data with input from a separate sidereal position map system to provide reliable autonomous driving even in remote off-road environments. A future iteration of the airless all-terrain tire design, the Vanlife features a tread system designed to maintain traction in a variety of on- and off-road surface types, from pavement to sand, snow, rock and more.

Vanlife Structure Concept
Vanlife Structure Concept

GAC Advanced Design Milan

Vanlife takes care of all the driving and navigation, and the occupants are free to enjoy the ride, taking in the view through the large windows and glass roof, sleeping in an in-vehicle hammock or indulging in whatever style of personal device is popular with Century X. They are surrounded by a strange, peculiar Surrounded by the “rail frame”, which replaces the typical ladder frame or one-piece structure.

The frame is wrapped around the middle of the vehicle like a belt, and the interior and exterior car components are connected up and down to combine to form the entire car. Occupants can also use it to connect and swap out all forms of modular components—smart devices, speakers, lighting, table tops, storage pockets, and more—to personalize the interior to their liking at any time.

Orbital frames sound like a great way to make every body panel of a car come off like a cartoon joke, but it’s certainly a fun, creative idea for a design study. On the outside, the frame supports a retractable platform system that looks like a slide-out kitchen by GAC Advanced Design. It doesn’t have any built-ins, but offers plenty of dual-bench space for cooking, meal prep, repairing sports equipment, and more.

GAC's deployable outdoor kitchen doesn't include a stove or sink, but it offers plenty of room for the owner's camping gear
GAC’s deployable outdoor kitchen doesn’t include a stove or sink, but it offers plenty of room for the owner’s camping gear

GAC Advanced Design Milan

GAC presented Vanlife at Milan design week this month. It’s obviously not going to production, but it’s an interesting thought exercise on how advanced automotive technology can enhance the RVing experience.

source: GAC Trumpchi