Self-driving hotel rooms are on the way

The Autonomous Travel Suite won this year’s Radical Innovation Award, a design competition for the hospitality industry. Photo credit: Aprilli Design Studio (Self-driving hotel rooms are on the way)

Toronto-based design firm Aprilli Design Studio has revealed more details and plans around its Autonomous Travel Suite, a hotel suite housed within a self-driving vehicle. The concept allows travelers to visit multiple destinations anytime, day or night.

The driverless mobile suite comprises a sleeping area with mattresses, washroom facilities with a toilet and sitting shower, a space for working or entertaining and a small kitchen. It could fit up to five people.

“It’s basically a hotel room so it has everything inside it,” Steve Lee, a designer at Toronto-based Aprilli, told USA Today. “Whether it’s six hours or 10 hours, you’ll feel comfortable inside it.”

The Autonomous Travel Suite won this year’s Radical Innovation Award, a design competition for the hospitality industry.

Autonomous Travel Suite communicates through a central platform called Autonomous Interface that controls the various operations and services between the travel suites and hotel facilities using advanced technology. Travelers can easily specify multiple destinations and necessary services through an online app, and the Autonomous Travel Suite tailor-made to meet the specifications will be automatically delivered to the travelers’ front door. 

Autonomous Interface then will analyze the best routes and communicate with nearby facilities to arrange the requested services along the way. It will automatically control the indoor environment and check with your vehicle’s status to make sure everything is in the best condition along the trip.

Does the idea sound far-fetched? Driverless cars have already been tested on the streets of some U.S. cities and in London. Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he could have self-driving vehicles on the road by next year.

Lee predicts his Autonomous Travel Suite could be on the road by 2030. The battery-powered vehicle is expected to be able to travel up to 10 hours.


Rendering of the Autonomous Hotel Chain. Photo credit: Aprilli Design Studio

For longer trips, Lee envisions developing an Autonomous Hotel Chain, a network of hotel facilities that would offer stationary parent units and amenities such as fitness centers, spas, pools and meeting rooms. Individual Autonomous Travel Suites could dock into the parent units, forming upscale integrated units. Autonomous Hotel also has uncrewed service vehicles that can be dispatched to the nearby Autonomous Travel Suites, providing fresh batteries or room services. 

Lee believes major hotel companies such as Marriott International and Hilton would be able to build the infrastructure at their properties to accommodate the suites.

“The existing hotels can continue to update their facilities to fit the needs for autonomous vehicles,” he said. But, “eventually it would be great if there’s a dedicated brand for it where everything is designed around it.”

Compared to domestic flights or train travels that require multiple steps of transfers and check-ins throughout the travel, Autonomous Travel Suite operates as your personal rental car and hotel room, providing unlimited flexibility and mobility at a cheaper cost, according to Aprilli. Autonomous Travel Suite’s rental cost basically covers the cost for local transportation (taxi or rental car), air flight and hotel altogether, which makes it a more competitive option compared to domestic flights or train travels, the company said, and if more than one person is traveling, the overall travel cost becomes even more competitive.