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Michelin Challenge Design 2014 winners revealed

Mon, 13 Jan 2014 00:00:00 -0800

The winners of the Michelin Challenge Design 2014 have just been revealed at a private event in Detroit's Renaissance Center following the first press day of the NAIAS.

Chris Luchowiec of Poland was awarded first place for his ‘BOT' design, a completely autonomous transportation solution for relatively low populated areas. His concept is designed to address the issue of lone car commuters, traffic congestion and the generally poor experience of mass transit use.

BOT is a cheap, safe, self-driving cab that allows shared journeys (thus reducing the cost per journey and traffic congestion) and is accessible for everyone. Users place ride-requests using a mobile device and BOT travels to meet them before ferrying them to their final destination.

Luchowiec's project considers a number of factors including local culture and lifestyle, ecological issues and sustainability. It uses solutions such as autonomous driving, large air-lithium batteries, artificial intelligence, organically folding seats, light-emitting windows (thanks to transparent display tech) and all-year-round tires.

In second place was a team made up of Chuang Dong, Zhen Qiu and Haowen Deng. Their entry, ‘AKA24', is single-seat vehicle that's small and flexible enough for daily life in China's biggest cities, and is developed around the idea of placing Maglev rails on roads.

When the driver is in control, the vehicle lies horizontal and uses the foldable wheels, but in autonomous mode it moves to an upright position and magnetic rails direct the AKA24 to its final destination.

Takbeom Heogh's ‘GelenK' took the final place in the top three, and is a truck concept for a future megacity. Current large trucks won't be as effective in these crowded cities and smaller trucks are incapable of performing the same duties or travelling long distances.

To bridge the gap GelenK is a one-seater vehicle, in which the width of truck is narrowed and and the height raised. This will make it possible for the cargo to follow the driver's cab autonomously after separation to navigate narrow streets.

It uses GPS and wireless technology for autonomous traveling and the docking system's universal nature means it can be used with any kind of vehicle.

The three winners were chosen from a shortlist of 15 finalists drawn from Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, Guatemala, Italy, Mexico, Serbia and South Korea and were selected by a judging panel of automotive designers and industry experts.

They have attended the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) as guests of Michelin, with all finalists work on display in the basement of the COBO Center.

By Rufus Thompson