The US traffic safety agency sees a major need for change in the approval of autonomous cars. Pedals and steering wheels are no longer needed. In numerous registration regulations in the USA, And even in other parts of the world, the driver's seat, steering wheel, pedals, and other controls are mentioned. The US traffic safety agency NHTSA found that they are not necessary for autonomous cars and has published a final proposal for changing numerous regulations (PDF).
It's about crash standards, for example, which expressly mention the driver's seat with steering wheel and pedals. If there is no obligation to provide such control elements, this could result in cost savings for the manufacturer, the reasoning is given. Almost $1,000 could be saved per vehicle.
The agency acknowledges that there are still uncertainties surrounding the development and potential deployment of autonomous vehicles. However, NHTSA believes it is appropriate to complete this action now to preempt new vehicle designs that may already be in prototype or study form. Current designs are generally vehicles with forward-facing seating and vehicles without manual controls. In some cases, however, manufacturers have also been showing models in which the passengers sit facing each other for years.
The authority emphasizes that autonomous cars must offer the same level of occupant protection as human-driven cars.
Vehicle designers have been considering completely redesigning the interior of autonomous cars for many years. At Cebit 2015, Mercedes showed with the concept vehicle F 015 - Luxury in Motion how the company imagines the living space of such vehicles: The core of the concept at the time was a variable seating system with swiveling armchairs. The passengers can also sit opposite each other like in a train compartment.
Rolls-Royce also gave some thought to the future with the 103EX concept car in 2016. There is no longer a dashboard, which makes room for a large TV that passengers can use on a sofa. The legroom is so big that you could theoretically sit on the floor.
Travelers can use the travel time to work, relax or communicate. In the simplest case, they just talk and sit across from each other. The only thing missing is the virtual campfire in the middle of the seats.