A shared mobility platform by Andy Zou
The future of travel is the underlying theme for this year’s Royal College of Art Intelligent Mobility final show. Students have been tasked to collectively examine three main areas within this context – the finite nature of natural resources, urban transport and design for inclusive societies – with some interesting results by a handful of designers who will soon be sketching our future travel.
The RCA is regarded as the most influential post-graduate university of art and design worldwide. Nestled in the heart of London, by Hyde Park and the Royal Festival Hall, the college has long been a hotbed for recruiting talented emerging designers, including an international alumni of car designers that reads like a who’s who of the motoring industry. Formally called Vehicle Design, the name-change to Intelligent Mobility is a reflection on current concerns with transport design.
Hui Li’s future smart city cars have 5G antennas to communicate effectively
“We want to ask more critical questions than what we used to when the course was focused more on vehicle form and brand identity,” explains senior tutor Chris Thorpe. “The new program is deeply connected to the shift culturally, socially, technically in the car industry. We are asking new questions,” he tells me over Zoom. “What is the driver-experience now that autonomous cars are changing what brands provide? How does the shift to renewable power and electrification impact on the car layout? With the shift from rural settings to mega urban centers, what are the implications on transport design? Then on a sub-level, questions such as how do we share mobility platforms?”
Since the RCA show could not go on in its physical format dues to the coronavirus pandemic, I worked with Thorpe and his team to identify six of the proposals by these emerging transport designers which best responds to the topic.
Attitudes towards automation by Daniel Vorley
Dan Vorley is proposing a new interface designed for intuitive communication as a way of building … [+]
Self-driving electric vehicles improve mobility, yet miscommunication between man and machine, namely AI, can often lead to a distrust in the advancements of future transport. To combat this, Daniel Vorley is proposing a new interface designed for intuitive communication as a way of building trust in autonomous vehicles.
He explains: “My concept is a visualization of the thought process of the AI in an autonomous vehicle, inspired by neuroimaging and the mapping and imaging of neural pathways in the human brain. It provides an ambient display of activity from the vehicle’s own neural network, moving into different thresholds as its surroundings change.”
Essentially, his design concept takes the form of a flow of holographic particles around the perimeter of the cabin, changing constantly as the vehicle enters different environments and situations. In this scenario, the dialogue between passengers and vehicle builds on the ability to communicate through subconscious channels – facial expression and posture – thus leading to an intuitive dialogue between man and machine.
Aesthetic experiences of future vehicles by Oliver Winter
Oliver Winter’s proposal is a humanized autonomous future vehicle designed for family journeys
This is a humanized autonomous future vehicle designed for family journeys. Oliver Winter worked with social psychologists, spatial designers and real families to understand their concerns and develop the interior design concept which offers a social and interactive cabin to help reduce driver and passenger stress. “Privacy, relaxation and refuge are all important aspects of the design,” he says Winter, “but so is the need for social and interactive areas for the family to be together.”
Oliver Winter’s design features a combination of embroidered surfaces, textured fabrics and smart … [+]
Here, screen technologies are replaced with analogue and interactive experiences. While, collaborating with RCA textile student Lizzy Stufzand, the color, material and finishes follows the circadian rhythm to be a natural, internal process to regulates the sleep-wake cycle. They feature a combination of embroidered surfaces, textured fabrics and smart materials, to help create an environment that improve passenger experience and heightens sensory curiosity.
Aesthetic experiences of future vehicles by Johannes Recla
Johannes Recla is taking on the sonic side of electric vehicles with his RCA project
Johannes Recla is taking on the much-debated sonic side of electric vehicles. Currently electrically propelled cars are legally required to have an acoustic alert system for when they travel under 30mph, which generally tends to omit an artificial electric noise. Recla’s concept offers a library of sounds and shapes, applied to enhance the visual design and create directional and speed-dependent acoustic properties.
Johannes Recla’s concept offers a library of sounds and shapes
Each vehicle body part has a particular acoustic property based on the material, weight and shape, which is then naturally triggered by the airflow from the vehicle’s movement. “The final outcome should be seen as an inspiration to design vehicle body parts justified by their acoustic properties which are naturally triggered by the airflow while moving,” says Recla. He believes the location and material properties of the parts will open up opportunities for new design solutions and create directional and speed-depending acoustic properties for future electric cars.
Socially inclusive design by Vidyut Naidu
Vidyut Naidu has designed an adventure vehicle for paraplegics
Vidyut Naidu has designed an adventure vehicle for paraplegics. The concept takes from the ancient Indian philosophy Dvaita, or dualism, “to achieve tranquility by looking at the synergy between the mind and the body – physical and spiritual,” he explains.
Vidyut Naidu’s project highlights the importance of inclusive design in mobility
Naidu’s research found that mobility and adventure can impact positively on mental and physical health, yet the variety of thrill-seeking activities available to people with disabilities are hugely limited. Ultimately the project highlights the importance of inclusive design in mobility – the paramount need to develop more options for overlooked demographic groups.
Inhabiting future cities by Andy Zou
Andy Zou’s autonomous minibus has an adjustable modular interior, made up of smaller elements that … [+]
This is a shared mobility platform run by membership. The year is 2030 and this self-driving six-passenger minibus has an adjustable modular interior, made up of smaller elements that easily connect to the main vehicle even when on the move. “The design focuses on improving the current traffic system as well as providing a better experience of public transport,” explains Andy Zou. “Travelers can interchange seamlessly and effortlessly while the bus is moving, removing the need for traditional bus stops and improving the efficiency of the whole transportation system.”
Andy Zou’s minibus offers improved experience in public transport
Although this particular design is targeted at daily commuters in megacities, the concept has the potential future applications, especially in scenarios where no physical stations could be built, including, say, journeys to outer-space and Mars.
Inhabiting future cities by Hiu Li
Hui Li’s utility vehicle for the future smart city has a 5G antenna
This is a utility vehicle envisaged for the future smart city, where one challenge is connecting an entire population and all vehicles to the high-speed 5G service, thus leading to the risk of accidents between autonomous cars and pedestrians.
Hui Li’s smart city autonomous vehicles communicate effectively through 5G
Hiu Li says: “Wireless data traffic has been increasing at a rate of over 50% per year per subscriber and this trend is expected to accelerate over the next decade with the continual use of video and the rise of the internet-of-things.” The concept therefore incorporates a 5G antenna and data hub to act as a signal repeater and help driverless transport systems communicate with one another and with other road users for the prevention of accidents.
Read about industries from aerospace to motor racing and architecture helping speed the development of COVID-19 medical equipment. Also, take a look at recent radical transport and smart city concepts: Alauda’s Airspeeder, Polestar’s inventive vegan interior in the Precept, tech start-up Pix Moving’s fascinating flexible cities, Toyota’s prototype futuristic city and the MINI Living Shanghai initiative.