Food would be transported in designated containers placed in the vehicle via exterior flaps.
Audi is looking at ways to integrate a system to transport food in a vehicle, according to a patent CarBuzz discovered at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
It's a rather interesting idea, with the system used to carry food in a vehicle or a fleet of cars using standardized reusable containers that can be stored in designated "security modules." Depending on the interior configuration, one or more of these storage areas can exist. The patent notes that fleet vehicles would have more than one standardized security module, allowing the car to carry several containers at a time.
The description explains that at least one security module would be used for receiving containers. Occupants of the vehicle will be able to access the receiving compartment from within the car. The patent says it's possible that the compartment can be opened or closed with a flap.
One of the security modules, situated within the vehicle, will be accessible to the outside thanks to an opening in the bodywork.
This could take the form of a flap, but the patent illustrations show the container could be slotted into a designated area in the front fender. "It is also possible [that] at least one externally accessible and lockable security module to be located in a separate storage space," reads the text. Perhaps it will function like the Rivian Gear Tunnel.
You may be wondering why you'd need a system like this in your car, but the patent explains that food delivery drivers would use this. Should you order takeout, for example, your food would be transported in a sealed container and placed in the vehicle.
The food is cooked at a restaurant, placed in a container, and put in the security modules. The outside accessible flap would allow a customer to receive their food without making contact with the driver. The empty container remains with the car and is returned to where the food was prepared.
This eliminates the need for wasteful packaging, as the container is reusable. The patent filing says the system can be integrated into a "closed-loop system that can take into account an entire food supply chain."
It's an interesting solution to a safety concern. Consumers may be worried that their food is being tampered with between the restaurant and the destination, and this would remove any risk of any fiddling on the delivery driver's part. Interestingly, a 2022 study by Circuit found that nearly 80% of delivery drivers ate from the food they were delivering. Moreover, it would protect delivery staff from false accusations from customers trying their luck. People are also now more than ever cautious about personal contact following the pandemic.
We're not sure why Audi is developing something like this. After all, your average Q8 owner isn't making deliveries on the side. Then again, Audi is part of the Volkswagen Group, which has a large portfolio of vehicles used for deliveries.
Perhaps it's related to VW's bizarre Pizza Blast patent filed last year? We'll have to wait and see.