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Automotive Press Association Design Panel says autonomous cars will tear up design rulebook [w/Video]

Tue, 18 Jun 2013 00:00:00 -0700

Fully autonomous cars will challenge everything we know about car design to date, according to industry experts at the Michelin Challenge Design-hosted Automotive Press Association (APA) Design Panel.

The APA members-only event, held at the Detroit Athletic Club, carried the theme of 'Driven/Undriven: The Duality of Tomorrow's Automobile' – the subject of this year's Michelin Challenge Design – and explored the design challenges and opportunities that will arise with the advent of autonomous vehicles.

The APA Design Panel consisted of Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics, Chris Borroni-Bird, vice president of Strategic Development at Qualcomm and author of Reinventing the Automobile: Personal Urban Mobility of the 21st Century as well as Stewart Reed, chair of the Transportation Design course at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

Exploring which tools would be used, Hall introduced a number of technologies to the discussion and declared that full autonomy will leave current car features, such as headlamps, either obsolete or needed for new functions. Reed echoed this, using his teaching experience at Art Center to say that many of his students' projects are opting for entirely new designs that eschew traditional features like front and back windows.

Borroni-Bird considered the opportunities that would arise in terms of the constraints currently imposed in terms of powertrain, structural requirements and aerodynamic drag to meet fuel economy and safety regulations. Brand considerations will also play an interesting part in seeing how design will evolve, the panel believes, as will the evolving transportation infrastructure.

The APA Design Panel is engineered to help journalists understand more about design and industry topics so they can be aware of future trends while being familiar with the field.

Check out the full video on the left to find out more.

By Rufus Thompson