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College Exhibition: Royal College of Art - Connections

Fri, 01 Jun 2007

First year Vehicle Design students at the Royal College of Art were given a brief to develop a car that would achieve universal individual mobility for people of all ages living in rural environments. Using intelligent systems technology, new materials and means, and retaining high standards of sustainability, the students were asked: what are the vehicles for tomorrow's countryside? Five different groups consisting of three students devised several very different proposals to answer this question.

Reginald Hingston and Raquel Aparicio both proposed innovative, fully-automated vehicles that would be guided through the use of GPS and sensors. While Aparicio's project is a sporty car constructed in two distinct parts and operated by a tactile voice-activated controller, Hingston's project features a retractable chassis, which enables the family MPV to fit into smaller parking spaces.

The programmable people mover can take commands via telephone or internet, negating the need for a driver and freeing busy parents' schedules. But perhaps the most innovative feature is the fact that these chauffer-less vehicles can be used as transportation for the elderly and disabled: a door entry interface offers braille touch interaction inspired by NASA.

"This concept gives freedom to every type of user, even the disabled. It is a possibility to be completely free and safe the most time as possible in everyday life," said Aparicio.

Sergio Loureiro da Silva, Ilaria Sacco and Yunwoo Jeong designed LINK, a transport system that creates a flow of information by linking the home, car and public transport through information technology. Loureiro da Silva's concept is more akin to a typical train, yet creates a range of experiences for the user in order to make best use of the time spent traveling. Occupants can choose to sit in individual pod seats on the lower level or retire upstairs to one of two lounge areas.

Jeong and Sacco's project had a different stance, combining individual transportation that could link up to a person's home (doubling as an entryway) and also connect to other similar vehicles to form a train. Sacco developed the interior, complete with a rail-mounted steering wheel allowing the car to be driven in either direction and seats that can be adapted from a conventional driving position to a comfortable sofa.