Autonomous RVing: Vanlife concept paves the way for futuristic camper van travel

GAC Vanlife Concept Autonomous RV
GAC delves into the realm of self-driving RVs with the Vanlife concept. Images © GAC Advanced Design Milan

Envisioning a future of autonomous, off-road capable RVs, GAC’s Vanlife concept brings comfort and adventure together.

As autonomous driving technology advances, it is increasingly being integrated into the world of outdoor travel and adventure. Chinese automaker GAC’s Advanced Design Studio Milan has taken this idea to new heights with their Vanlife concept, a fully autonomous RV designed to traverse any terrain, making travel more enjoyable and stress-free.

The Vanlife concept is the second installment in GAC’s “Car Culture” series, following the low-riding Barchetta revealed last year. This time, the design team has shifted its focus to camper van travel, which has gained significant popularity in recent years. With the Vanlife, GAC imagines a technologically advanced future for RV design, taking the concept of autonomous driving to the next level.

GAC’s Vanlife is not just a vehicle for short vacations or slow, full-time vanlife explorations, but also for focused, long-distance journeys, such as trips covering 2,000 km (1,240 miles) or more. The fully autonomous vehicle boasts Level 5 autonomy, ensuring a relaxing and stress-free travel experience, akin to first-class air travel. The solid-state battery pack provides long-range capabilities and fast charging, while the compact and streamlined design allows for efficient battery usage.

One of the most impressive features of the Vanlife concept is its ability to offer full autonomy not just on highways, but on any road or non-road. The vehicle’s autonomous navigation system utilizes GPS and mapping data in conjunction with a sidereal position-mapping system to offer reliable self-driving even in remote off-road environments. Moreover, the Vanlife is equipped with a future iteration of airless all-terrain tire design, featuring a tread system designed to maintain traction on various surfaces, including pavement, sand, snow, and rock.

An decentralized electric powertrain significantly reduces overhangs, resulting in a roomy interior.

With the Vanlife taking care of driving and navigation, occupants can fully enjoy their journey. The large windows and glass roof provide breathtaking views, while the in-vehicle hammock offers a comfortable sleeping option. Passengers can also indulge in personal devices, which are likely to evolve over time.

The Vanlife concept features a unique “Orbital frame” that replaces the traditional ladder frame or unibody construction. This frame wraps around the vehicle’s midsection, allowing interior and exterior automotive components to attach above and below, forming the complete vehicle. The Orbital frame also enables occupants to attach and swap various modular components, such as smart devices, speakers, lighting, tabletops, and storage bags, allowing for a personalized interior.

GAC Vanlife Structural Concept
GAC Vanlife structural concept.

On the exterior, the Orbital frame supports a retractable platform system, which serves as GAC Advanced Design’s take on a slide-out kitchen. Although it lacks built-in equipment, the platform offers ample dual-worktop space for cooking, meal preparation, and sports equipment repair.

GAC unveiled the Vanlife concept during Milan Design Week last month. While it is not intended for production, the concept offers a fascinating glimpse into how automotive technology advancements could revolutionize the RVing experience. By combining autonomous driving with off-road capabilities and customizable living spaces, GAC’s Vanlife concept has the potential to redefine camper van travel for generations to come.

GAC Vanlife Concept Boxy Shape
The Vanlife concept by GAC Advanced Design features a rectangular, van-esque shape, specifically designed for efficient and extended-range travel.

Source: GAC Motor