California Car Designers Look to 2057
Cali Car Designers Look to 2057
By Marty Bernstein
AIADA Contributing Editor
Fifteen automobile manufacturers’ design studios are all situated within a 120-mile radius of Los Angeles. Here, just a short drive down the 405 or another freeway, auto designers from North America, Europe and Asia are creating designs that will arrive in dealer showrooms sometime in the future.
In a fitting tribute to this area of true automotive creativity, the Los Angeles Auto Show hosted a design competition 50 years into the future that ran concurrent with a roster of 40 North American unveils on the floor of the Los Angeles Convention Center. The competition dubbed, “Design Challenge: Robocar 2057,” is sponsored by Yokohama – one among the design studios charged with creating a vision of driving for the year, 2057.
Entries in the competition are more than just futuristic Cad Cam explorations of the future; a description explaining the proposed design was required. And some of the words used go beyond innovative all the way to unfathomable – but interesting.
This year’s winner - an advanced autonomous vehicle that adapts to suit its surroundings from Volkswagen
Volkswagen Concept Slipstream
VW’s solution to the dense 2057 roadways is an advanced autonomous vehicle, that adapts to minimize its footprint and drag coefficient. These two-wheeled, teardrop shaped pods travel in an upright orientation which occupies 1/5 the size of a traditional vehicle. On special highways, it tilts to the horizontal to optimize the aerodynamic shape. Rear fins slide out to allow the rear to float like an airplane and reach speeds of 250 mph. Designers from Volkswagen/Audi Design Center, in Santa Monica, CA put this in motion.
In addition to Volkswagen’s SlipStream design, seven other automotive design studios based in the Los Angeles area were invited to draw designs for a vehicle using artificial intelligence, intended for the buyer of 50 years into the future. Those other vehicle entries included: Audi Virtuea Quattro, GM OnStar Ant, Honda 14 (one to the power of four), Mazda MotoNari rx, Mercedes-Benz SilverFlow, Nissan OneOne, and Toyota Biomobile MECHA.
Here’s a look at some of the other favorites from the 2057 design challenge.
Mercedes Silver Flow
Designers of the Silver Flow envision a multi-dimensional vehicle composed of micro metallic particles that rearrange themselves to become a vehicle of a specific shape, literally by pressing a button on a magnetic assembler. The shape can be selected by the driver. Inspired by Mercedes-Benz racing vehicles from a bygone age this concept was created by the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of North America in Irvine, CA.
Mazda Motonari RX
Crumpled silver paper? No, the Motonari is made of a 100 percent, re-prototypable carbon fiber nano tube shape memory alloy weave with a photovoltaic coating (which, by the way, is yet to be invented). The interface between the driver and the vehicle is a driving suit made of millions of microscopic actuators, which enables the driver to experience the road psycho-somatically while making the driver and vehicle indistinguishable from each other. This sensational ride comes from Mazda R&D of North America in Irvine, CA.
Limited ground space in 2057 requires vertical structures resulting in new pathways to explore the new spaces. Toyota feels the solution is found biomimicry. Inspired by life, the vehicle is powered by pollution with dynamic driving instincts and structural adaptations to accommodate the users need for space. Nanotechnology also enables the vehicle to expand and contract to serve as a compact commuter. This environmental leap hails from Calty Design in Newport, CA.
Taking the design crown last year was GM’s Hummer 02 – a successful interpretation of “transforming the future of driving into an environmental experience.” The Hummer O2 is powered by a fuel cell and constructed with algae-filled body panels that transform harmful CO2 into pure oxygen, which is subsequently released back into the environment. The Hummer is entirely made from post consumer materials, such as the aluminum frame and VOC-free finished seats.