The on-going Coronavirus pandemic has forced many people and companies to adapt to remote working and virtual communication. At universities around the world, this has also required the implementation of a new virtual format for degree shows. As such, the 2020 Royal College of Art Intelligent Mobility students and faculty will be holding a series of industry-facing webinars to promote the work of the graduating class over the next few weeks, and Form Trends plans to present these in due course.
As someone who regularly attends the RCA show, it’s a shame not to be able to walk around the models and interact with the students in person, especially as some clearly spent a lot of time and effort creating physical models. But with this new format of presentation, students will still have the opportunity to liaise with potential employers in a structured approach and in private sessions. The College also anticipates holding a physical show when conditions allow.
In the meantime, here’s a compilation of all the projects created by this year’s Intelligent Mobility program graduates.
Alone in the City
Avirukh Roy focused on the topic of loneliness for his final project, using the London Underground as a setting. The objective was to create a mobile social community to enable people to establish a network of friends in unfamiliar spaces. The project encourages interaction amongst commuters through motion capture and holograms made by a volumetric display. The motion capture devices capture data from people’s movements on the platform and in the trains, which engages them in games.
The volumetric display is responsible for visual, tactile and audio presentation using acoustic trapping, and is fed by the data captured from the motion sensors. The holograms are real 3D images, which are formed by the movement of beads that are suspended using arrays of small ultrasound speakers. The movement of the sound waves moves the beads. Apart from their optical properties, they are also able to generate sounds due to the vibration, which makes them suitable as a versatile display and public announcement system.
Boyang Guo imagines a future where hotels come to the guest, rather than the other way around. With a vision about the future spatial dividend, the Space WHEREVER project is an intelligent mobility system designed to provide users with a complete hotel experience in a future city. The exterior material is made of radical electro-optical glass, which ensures both privacy and an avant-garde and maverick appearance, while the interior is designed with a double-deck layout that makes full use of the space within. Designed for young people who like to travel, take risks and yearn for a new lifestyle, the project anticipates the desire for affluent and trendy hotel chains – such as the W hotel brand – to build and brand the vehicles, not traditional automobile manufacturers.
Dain Kim’s Prototype 03project is a ‘premium robo-sharingʼ concept that aims to express user-focused value through its exterior design. Branded Infiniti, the shared mobility concept enhances the user’s experience by creating three independent spaces within the cabin: the front passenger faces in the direction of travel while the other two – behind and facing rearwards – are in their own separate compartments, creating what Kim calls a ‘big contrastʼ design feature.
Dan Vorley’s Autonomous Trust concept proposes a new way for intuitive communication to be used to build trust in autonomous vehicles through an adaptive interface. A visual representation of the neural network wraps a flow of holographic particles around the perimeter of the cabin, changing as the vehicle enters different environments and situations. The dialogue between passenger and vehicle remains entirely visual and builds on our ability to communicate with other people through subconscious channels (facial expression, posture, proxemics, etc.).
Following his research, Vorley implemented three contextual states for the AI to respond to: ‘Aware’, which addresses everyday situations (navigating junctions, passing cyclists, etc.); ‘Alert’ for contexts that engage the passengers; and ‘Ambient’, for environments that are safe and require no dialogue between passenger and vehicle (i.e. the ideal autonomous experience). Autonomous Trust aims to keep people and sustainability at the heart of new design during paradigm changes brought on by the new technology.
Haolin Wang’s Ephermal project is based on a classic usage scenario, namely the dependence on a small space. Psychologically, there is a treatment called isolation therapy— people will feel more comfortable in a specific small space after a short period of time,. This design provides people with an ambiguous environment filled with steam. It is like taking the user into the forest in the morning to experience the kind of cloudy, cool, and non-hypnotic air in the fog. Although the cold steam can only last for a short time, it is enough to release the pressure.
Vehicle x Digital Infrastructure
Vehicle x Digital Infrastructure aims to create a new relationship between the autonomous car and the 5G digital infrastructures in smart cities. Li notes that wireless data traffic has been increasing at a rate of over 50% per year per subscriber, and that the trend is expected to accelerate over the next decade, requiring higher connectivity speeds. Li proposes a vehicle with two modes, an unmanned mode and sharing car mode, which raises the cabin to allow space for passengers. His ‘utility vehicle’ features a 5G antenna and data hub as a signal repeater to enhance signal service on road for autonomous vehicles.
Jiahong Wang’s P-SPACE project is a relaxation space designed for people in China’s major cities whose lives are consumed by work. Based on this phenomenon, I aimed to relieve their pressure during their travel. Wang asserts that spacious single person accommodations are essential during travel for commuters to feel at ease and relieve the everyday pressures they endure. Taking the demographic of its user base as into account, Wang created a design in harmony with Chinese minimalism. The exterior design was inspired from the subtle oriental culture, while the interior references Chinese tearooms – a comfortable and calm environment in which to unwind.
Project Androline is a self-driving six-passenger electric minibus designed for the year 2030. The shared mobility platform features an adjustable modular interior allowing people to sit privately, face-to-face, or have a group chat. Members can order a ride just like calling an Uber and they can interchange seamlessly and effortlessly while the bus is moving.
Although the design is targeted at daily commuters in megacities, it has many other future applications – especially in scenarios where physical static interchanges and stations cannot be easily built, such as air or space travel. The design focuses on reducing traffic congestion by improving the current transportation system as well as providing a better experience of public transport.
Sound & Sculpture
Johannes Recla’s Sound & Sculpture project deals with a fundamental issue of electric mobility: sound. The vehicle body has been designed according to its acoustic properties, which are naturally triggered by the airflow created by the vehicles’ movement.
“Sound is an important feature of all moving objects primarily for safety (of pedestrians/ other road users) but also to trigger an emotion that makes a car desirable,” says Recla, noting the artificial electric noises required by law fall short. He therefore created a library of sounds, shapes and measurements to emit sound frequencies that have been inspired by nature. “This makes it possible to apply a variety of new visual and acoustic signatures for electric vehicles as well as positioning certain shapes for directional and speed-depending sonic outputs.”
A Tunnel to Nature
There is a growing fear that some people, particularly children, are becoming increasingly disconnected from nature. The ‘Tunnel to Nature’ concept aims to free the younger generation from digital addiction and support nursery education on the inherent wellness benefits of the natural world both during the journey to outdoor destinations and on-site, reconnecting this specific target group with the natural environment.
Nikhil Pravin Tupe
Vertica is an urban aerial mobility proposal with a luxury slant. Created by Nikhil Pravin Tupe to solve the issue of traveling to and within overcrowded urban environments, the concept is a vertical airship (VTOL), a sustainable mode of travel, which requires no carbon transportation infrastructure or runway. Tupe envisions the Vertica would integrate with luxury hotel chains, providing a luxury service for living in the sky for a week or traveling slowly. Unlike helicopters and private jets, Vertica can land on a mountainside, beach or city rooftop, as there are no restrictions for landing.
Oliver Bassnett’s GAIA is about forming a new luxury experience by interconnecting people together through an object and its surrounding environment. The design of the vehicle was influenced by his research of social behavior in parkland, where he observed how people came together either as a group, couples or individuals. He used these factors to create the different social spaces on board.
GAIA is unique in its architecture, layout and aesthetic –everything is driven by its functions. The philosophy of the design was born from the idea of the bridge, bringing two separate elements together: an open deck with theatre-like seating at the front, and a more secluded seating pod at the rear.
The form frames its surrounding environment showing a strong contrast between the passengers, object and the scenery around it. Gliding through the environment at a serene pace, it gives its passengers the opportunity to contemplate their surroundings and experience a new way to travel on land.
Prospect & Refuge
Oliver Winter’s Prospect and Refuge concept is a fully autonomous family car that aims to bring an intuitive and interactive experience to the user through tactile surfaces and analog interfaces. Modeled after a theory developed by English geographer Jay Appleton in 1975, Prospect and Refuge is based on the human need to have opportunity (prospect) while being safe (refuge). The design contradicts traditional car interiors by allowing parents to sit at the rear of the vehicle in comfort and privacy, whilst being able to watch over their children playing in the front.
Winter worked with fellow RCA student Lizzy Stuyfzand, a Textile designer, to create a humanized interior environment with interior color and trim inspired by circadian rhythm. Devoid of screens, a continuous and adaptive lighting strip runs throughout the vehicle, acting as the users analog host. It communicates to each user through the interior speaker, whilst tactile controls enable users to call the A.I. host and change their immediate environment.
Ryan Sinton’s trips to the Philippines inspired him to create the Alpas concept, which seeks to improve travel within the densely populated city of Manila. Meaning ‘break free’ in Filipino, the Alpas concept aims to relieve Manila’s urban congestion through the use of the city’s natural waterways. Manila’s architecture and the country’s iconic vehicles influenced the autonomous, amphibious mobility solution’s design.
Powered by solid-state batteries and in-wheel motors, the four hubless wheels rotate 90° while in the water to become water-jets for propulsion and steering. The out-rigger wheel pods also extend out, giving stability similar to the Banca boats of the Philippines. Sinton also created a system of dedicated autonomous lanes and access roads that lead to the waterways.
L U P O
Designed with the state of California in mind, Sohum Deshmukh’s L U P O is a solar electric vehicle intended to reduce dependency on the electric grid. The concept is a semi-autonomous daily commuter, which gives the user and passenger a completely new experience of driving. Deshmukh created a new architecture to that of conventional ICE vehicles and developed a volume that is inspired by airflow and laminar flow of water.
The design revolves around aerodynamic efficiency and, after multiple variations, it achieved a drag coefficient of 0.17 Cd. Along with the aerodynamic volume, L U P O also has a strong solar energy design. The HEX solar panel layout captures 90 percent of sunlight hitting the vehicle.
TING, which means ‘listening’ in Chinese, was inspired by the design of a concert hall. “I like music and I often go to the concert hall to listen to classical music,” explains designer Ting Zheng. “Why can’t the car’s sound environment be as good as a concert hall?”
With the quiet propulsion system and enhanced interior space afforded by electric cars, Zheng anticipates future sound insulation technology and research on acoustic materials will provide a better environment for listening to music. With the advice of experts and the testing of professional software, the interior design balances reverberation time and standing wave, which proves the concept.
Studies have shown that mentally empowering individuals allows the physical body to flourish and in that way mobility has relevance in both mental and physical health. Vidyut Naidu’s goal was to highlight the importance of inclusive design in mobility and to start a discussion on developing and designing more options for disabled people.
Designed to enhance mobility for paraplegics, the Silverback concept harnesses the virtues of tranquility – both physical and spiritual – in a three-seat open vehicle that provides a thrill-seeking experience. The frame of the vehicle has various holding points for the user to feel secure and comfortable. The width between the rear wheels allows for people in wheelchairs to fit in between with enough space on either side. The seat is broken into three pieces: the two side seats secure the legs in position while the central seat supports the spine. The rear seats raise and lower themselves and each seat operates on different swing arms and pivots to ease accessibility.
Project AQL is an electric amphibious vehicle for coastal cities that are prone to flooding. Deriving its name from the word ‘aqua’ and the abbreviation AQL (lowest acceptable quality of a product), Ye Han sought inspiration from the form of a crab as well as his experience living in Houston, Texas. The vehicle can be entered from the top with a structure similar to the hatch of a boat, or from the side with a common sliding door.
Based on the premise that mobility must adapt to different scenarios and do so seamlessly, the vehicle features flip-up wheels and several hydrofoil components to increase performance in shallow water. On land, the foils can retract into the bottom of the vehicle.
Yu Liang (Leo)
Yu Liang developed the Controller Zero concept to help young office workers to relax and gain more sense of control. Unlike the traditional way of driving, the user stands on the platform and uses their center of gravity to control direction and speed instead of using a steering wheel. In this driving mode, users are more focused and have a better sense of control. In addition to this ‘control mode’, this car provides a meditation mode, which allows the user to meditate in the car during their commute and adapt to better adapt to the working environment or catch up on sleep. Users can easily switch between both modes to meet their needs.
Yujing Zuo (Zoe)
Yujing Zuo’s thesis project is a mobile restaurant that promotes and protects the tradition of Chinese noodle cooking. The concept was inspired by intimate small campfires and includes an entertainment quotient: When the vehicle is circuiting in the city the chefs on-board provide a moving live show experience to show the cooking process as performance. When parked, the vehicle transforms into a community social platform for people to enjoy the food in an intimate theatre atmosphere.
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